Lawyers for former President Donald Trump have filed a brief with a federal appellate court asking that he be granted absolute immunity from civil suits related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
Trump’s attorneys on Wednesday asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reverse Judge Amit Mehta’s February ruling that denied a motion to dismiss lawsuits related to Jan. 6.
The brief argues that Trump’s Jan. 6 speech, at a “Stop the Steal” rally, is protected by presidential absolute immunity.
“President Trump is shielded by absolute presidential immunity because his statements were on matters of public concern,” his attorneys argue in the brief, the Washington Examiner reported.
“No amount of hyperbole about the violence of January 6, 2021, provides a basis for this Court to carve out an exception to the constitutional separation of powers.”
Trump is facing three lawsuits by Democrat members of Congress and two police officers.
Mehta ruled that the former president was not immune from the lawsuits, determining Trump’s speech before the Capitol attack was not within the scope of his official presidential duties.
The judge added that the speech likely consisted of “words of incitement not protected by the First Amendment.”
“To deny a president immunity from civil damages is no small step. The court well understands the gravity of its decision,” Mehta ruled then. “But the alleged facts of this case are without precedent, and the court believes that its decision is consistent with the purposes behind such immunity.”
Trump’s lawyers on Wednesday argued that Democrats and others attempting to sue the former president were guilty of “harassment,” and said that impeachment was the only way to punish a president for abuse.
“A Democratic-controlled House of Representatives already brought impeachment charges against President Trump for allegedly inciting an insurrection on January 6, 2021,” the brief stated, the Examiner reported.
“Their effort failed, and President Trump was acquitted. These further lawsuits are an attempt to thwart that acquittal, and it is just this type of harassment that presidential immunity is meant to foreclose.”
Reuters contributed to this story
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