He cannot hide behind his presidential immunity. Donald Trump can be sued in civil proceedings by victims of the Capitol assault, the US Department of Justice said in an official document on Thursday.
Police officers and elected congressmen are demanding damages from the Republican whom they accuse of having encouraged his supporters to attack the Capitol on January 6, 2021. In a fiery speech, he had called on them to ” fight like the devils” against the results of the presidential election that the elected officials had to certify that day.
Donald Trump has asked the courts to close these files in the name of the immunity granted to American presidents to protect them from abusive prosecution. For him, his speech fell within the framework of his official duties, which involve speaking on subjects of general interest. After debating the arguments for and against at a hearing in December, a federal appeals court sought legal advice from the Justice Department.
Without commenting on the merits of the case, he considered that presidents enjoyed broad immunity, including for public speeches made as a candidate, but that it could not cover “incitement to violence.
“As the leader of the nation and the state, the president has an ‘extraordinary power to address his fellow citizens and on their behalf’, but this traditional function has a purpose of communication and persuasion, not of incitement to violence”, write its lawyers, recommending to reject the request of Donald Trump. If the court of appeal validates this reasoning, the complaints can resume their course. At the same time, Donald Trump is the subject of a criminal investigation, supervised by a special prosecutor, for his role in this assault.