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Trump claims absolute immunity in attempt to toss January 6 suits ...

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Melissa Quinn
Robert Legare
Donald Trump
Amit Mehta
Eric Swalwell
Bennie Thompson
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Mo Brooks
Jesse Binnall
Joseph Sellers
Jon Mosely
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The New York Times
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The suit from the 11 House Democrats alleges Trump, Giuliani and two far-right extremist groups, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, conspired to incite a crowd of his supporters to breach the Capitol to stop Congress from counting states' electoral votes and reaffirming President Biden's win in the 2020 presidential election.Trump, however, argues he has "absolute immunity" from liability in the three civil suits filed against him and claims his remarks outside the White House before the mob descended on the Capitol were political speech protected by the First Amendment. giving a speech is something that presidents do," noting the words themselves are not at issue here, but the forum in which they were delivered.Mehta pressed Binnall on how far the boundaries of presidential immunity extend and where to draw the line, asking whether there was "anything a president could say or do in his capacity as a candidate that would not receive immunity?"Binnall said he could not think of an example and instead argued the appropriate remedy for Trump's actions surrounding January 6 was impeachment, which was pursued by the House and ended with his acquittal by the Senate."They don't get another bite at the apple with these questions," he said, adding that executive immunity "must be broad."But Joseph Sellers, who argued on behalf of the Democratic lawmakers and Capitol Police officers, told Mehta that Trump was engaged in "purely private actions" on January 6 and therefore cannot be shielded from the civil lawsuits."There is no legitimate role absolutely for fomenting an insurrection directed at Congress," Sellers said of the part presidential immunity plays in legal protection.Mehta, though, noted that during his remarks outside the White House, Trump was addressing the integrity of the election, a "matter of public concern." It is within a president's capacity, he said, to speak to the public about such matters."Why isn't that something that is squarely something for which he enjoys immunity?" Mehta asked, later pointing to a Nixon-era Supreme Court ruling that prohibits courts from examining a president's motives. "That is not something that ever becomes actionable based on the words at play here, which are not calls to violence."Sellers, though, argued Trump's comments can not be isolated only to the rally on January 6, as he "beat the drum of fraud, fraud, fraud" in the weeks leading up to the insurrection."You have to look at the broader context," he said.In his lawsuit against Trump, Swalwell accuses the former president, Giuliani, Trump Jr. and Brooks of violating federal civil rights laws and D.C. law by spreading false allegations of voter fraud and other conduct that led to the violence at the Capitol on January 6.

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