Court rules that civil suits against Trump for attack on Capitol Hill can proceed

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Friday that former Republican President Donald Trump (2017-2021) can be civilly sued for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Capitol Hill, but left the door open for him to challenge the decision.

The DC court rejected a broad claim of immunity by Trump and his lawyers, who said he was acting in his official capacity as president when he urged supporters to protest at the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 presidential election.

US presidents are protected from civil lawsuits under presidential immunity for official acts, but plaintiffs in several civil lawsuits filed by police and members of Congress allege that the rally was a campaign event and that Trump was acting in his personal capacity as a candidate.

That said, the court left open the possibility for Trump to make further arguments in support of his position that his speech should be considered an official act of the presidency and therefore covered by presidential immunity.

“Because our decision is not necessarily even the final word on the issue of presidential immunity, we of course express no view on the ultimate merits of the claims against President Trump,” Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote for the panel.

The US Department of Justice had already ruled on March 2 last year that the lawsuits could proceed under a statute that prohibits government officials from using force, threats or intimidation and allows anyone injured by such actions to seek compensation.

The former Republican president is currently facing four criminal cases: one in Washington and one in Georgia for interfering in the 2020 elections, another one in New York for falsifying business records related to a payoff to adult actress Stormy Daniels and one in Miami for taking classified documents from the White House when he left office

By Sohail Majeed