September 26, 2022

Former President Donald Trump acted outside his presidential duties when he spoke to supporters ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and is not immune from three lawsuits seeking to hold him liable for the attack, lawmakers and police officers have told the D.C. Circuit.

In a joint brief filed Friday, 11 Democratic members of Congress and two U.S. Capitol Police officers sharply criticized Trump's assertion of absolute immunity from claims he incited the riot that left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Trump is appealing a D.C. federal judge's February ruling that found he must face the three lawsuits, which have been consolidated on appeal.

Trump has argued that the speech he delivered near the White House ahead of the riot was well within the "outer perimeter" of his presidential duties because it focused on matters of public concern, such as election integrity. But the Democratic lawmakers and police officers contend he crossed a line and attempted to influence an act of Congress in which the president is deliberately excluded from participating by the U.S. Constitution.

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Joe Sellers of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, who represents the 10 other Democratic lawmakers suing Trump, added that the Constitution clearly states what presidential acts are considered permissible and impermissible.

"The facts [of the case] demonstrate that Trump acted way outside any permissible duties that could be prescribed to the presidency and, as a result, that he should be held accountable through civil action," Sellers said.

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