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Federal Judge Rejects Donald Trump Effort to Halt Jan. 6 Civil Suit

Courthouse News Service

April 18, 2024

Trump argued that allowing the civil case to proceed while his still-paused criminal trial is pending could force him to reveal potential defenses and incriminate himself.

A federal judge on Thursday denied former President Donald Trump’s motion to pause proceedings in a civil personal injury suit brought by Democratic lawmakers over the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, rejecting his argument it should only resume after his related criminal case has concluded.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta acknowledged that some of Trump’s concerns that by defending this case first he could reveal his defense strategy in the criminal matter as valid, but do not show a pressing need for such an indefinite stay.

The Barack Obama appointee wrote in his opinion that Trump’s assertion that there is “substantial overlap” between the lawmakers’ allegations and special counsel Jack Smith’s allegations in his still-paused election subversion case is “true in a sense.”

“But defendant overstates the significance of that factual overlap in the present posture of these matters,” Mehta said.

. . .

Trump’s criminal case has been paused since December, as his presidential immunity claim has made its way through the D.C. Circuit and is now before the Supreme Court, who is set to hear arguments on the issue on April 25.

If the high court rejects his argument, a trial would likely resume sometime in the fall and could potentially run up to and through the November election.

Mehta, citing the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Blassingame v. Trump that opened the former president up to civil litigation for his nonofficial acts surrounding Jan. 6, found little concern of a Fifth Amendment violation.

He said that the sole purpose of discovery in the civil case will be to determine whether Trump’s actions “can reasonably be understood as the official actions of an officeholder rather than the unofficial actions of an office-seeker.”

The case will merely center on the question of immunity and would not require Trump — who would not be required to attend in person like his current criminal case in Manhattan — to admit to any of the conduct he’s accused of in Smith’s case.

The plaintiffs, congressional Democrats like Eric Swalwell, Bennie Thompson, Karen Bass, Pramila Jayapal, Maxine Waters and more, have also conceded they are not asking for Trump to be deposed and testify under oath.

Read Federal Judge Rejects Donald Trump Effort to Halt Jan. 6 Civil Suit.