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Trump Argues He Can't Be Sued For What He Said As President


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The New York Times
SOURCE: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetillman/trump-january-6-sued-rally-speech
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Summary

Former president Donald Trump at the rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.WASHINGTON — Donald Trump cannot be sued for pretty much anything he said while he was in the White House, including his speech on Jan. 6 that preceded the attack on the US Capitol by his supporters and his tweets throughout the day, a lawyer for the former president argued in court on Monday.Less than a week after the one-year anniversary of the Capitol riot, a federal judge in Washington, DC, considered the fate of three civil lawsuits seeking to hold Trump and his allies responsible for the attack — specifically, conspiring to interfere with Congress’s certification of the 2020 election results and incite violence against police officers who tried to protect the Capitol complex.US District Judge Amit Mehta asked questions that suggested he was at a minimum skeptical of Trump’s sweeping argument that he was immune against being sued for nearly anything he’d said during his four years as president. But Mehta also said during the hearing that he was struggling with whether the core conspiracy claim could go forward based on the facts laid out in the lawsuits, and whether comments by Trump and some of his other high-profile supporters on Jan. 6 were covered by the First Amendment’s free speech protections.It was the second time in just over a month that a court considered the argument that Trump couldn’t personally be sued over things he said while he was president. And there are four other civil lawsuits pending that accuse Trump of inciting the violence, plus one filed before Jan. 6 that accuses Trump of conspiring with the Republican National Committee to violate the rights of Black voters by trying to undermine the results of the election.Trump’s lead attorney, Jesse Binnall — a Virginia-based lawyer representing Trump in an array of postpresidency legal fights, and who counts Trump ally Michael Flynn as a former client and conservative attorney and activist Sidney Powell as a former co-counsel — argued Monday that presidential immunity extended to the “outer perimeters” of a president’s actions while in office.Mehta asked if Binnall wanted the judge to ignore the content of what Trump said on Jan. 6. Binnall replied yes, explaining that what mattered for immunity was the type of act at issue, which in this case was a speech to the American people, something that is part of being president.Mehta pushed back, pointing out that the lawsuits alleged that Trump had appeared at the Jan. 6 rally to advance his personal interests as a candidate for office.

As said here by Zoe Tillman