'Incitement of imminent private violence': Justice Department quashes Donald Trump's immunity claims

'Incitement of imminent private violence': Justice Department quashes Donald Trump's immunity claims
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice in a 32-page amicus brief has told a federal appeals court that Donald Trump can be sued by Capitol Police and others for his actions on January 6 because presidents do not have absolute immunity when they have incited violence.

"No part of a President's official responsibilities includes the incitement of imminent private violence. By definition, such conduct plainly falls outside the President's constitutional and statutory duties," the DOJ's brief reads.

"As the Nation's leader and head of state, the President has 'an extraordinary power to speak to his fellow citizens and on their behalf,'" DOJ says. "But that traditional function is one of public communication and persuasion, not incitement of imminent private violence."

CNN reports the DOJ's amicus brief "marks the first time the department has confronted directly the question of Trump's civil immunity for his conduct related to January 6. The lawsuits were brought by Democratic members of the House and Capitol Police officers."

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The brief is carefully worded, and makes clear DOJ is not taking a position on the cases before the court, but rather on what it believes are the boundaries of what presidential actions are and are not.

The DOJ brief explains that "actual incitement would be unprotected by absolute immunity even if it came in the context of a speech on matters of public concern."

The Washington Post adds the court is currently reviewing cases brought by two U.S. Capitol {police officers and 11 Democratic members of Congress. Trump is claiming absolute immunity from the civil lawsuits because he was president at the time.

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