Trump Pushes for Immunity from Jan. 6 Lawsuits

Trump's attorney, Jesse Binnall, told the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Wednesday that the former president is immune from lawsuits related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots because he was the sitting president when he gave his remarks to supporters.

Trump Pushes for Immunity from Jan. 6 Lawsuits
Image credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images [via CNN]

Facts

  • Trump's attorney, Jesse Binnall, told the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Wednesday that the former president is immune from lawsuits related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots because he was the sitting president when he gave his remarks to supporters.
  • The court listened to the arguments for almost two hours, as Trump is currently facing three separate civil lawsuits stemming from Jan. 6. Binnall told the court that "it is very normal for a president to comment on any number of things."
  • The three-judge panel probed the extent of the immunity that Trump was claiming, asking a series of hypothetical scenarios. Binnall critiqued the questions but held firm in asserting that a president would be immune to such actions.
  • Binnall maintained it is protected speech even if a president hypothetically said "burn Congress down." Presidents typically have immunity from lawsuits over official acts, which include election-related actions.
  • A 1982 SCOTUS ruling held that presidents cannot be sued over their official acts. However, a District of Columbia judge ruled in February that Trump’s speech on Jan. 6 didn't fall within his scope of duties, allowing the lawsuits to continue.
  • On Jan. 6, 2021, Trump told supporters that he would never concede the 2020 race and urged them to “fight like hell" as lawmakers were preparing to certify Biden’s victory.

Sources: Reuters, CNN, Bloomberg, and Al Jazeera.

Narratives

  • Democratic narrative, as provided by Lawfare. Though there is some legal precedent to lend Trump immunity for his vitriolic rhetoric in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the former president is on shaky ground. There is plainly no constitutional or legislative authority for an incumbent president to encourage the violent disruption of a congressional proceeding — especially one constitutionally mandated for the democratic transfer of power. The court should make sure that Trump is not given immunity.
  • Pro-Trump narrative, as provided by FOX News. Regardless of what the former president said, Trump should be granted the same immunity his predecessors enjoyed. Indicting a former president would almost certainly lead to more division in an already polarized country — not to mention the fact that it would set a dangerous precedent regarding the degree to which politicians are responsible for the acts of their supporters.