Appeals Court Rules Trump Not Immune from Capitol Riot Lawsuits, Paving Way for Trials

Chloe Whisperwillow

Updated Saturday, December 2, 2023 at 12:23 PM CDT

Appeals Court Rules Trump Not Immune from Capitol Riot Lawsuits, Paving Way for Trials

In a landmark decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ruled that former President Donald Trump cannot claim presidential immunity to avoid lawsuits over the Capitol riot. The unanimous decision, including a nod by a Trump appointee, Judge Gregory Katsas, opens the door for Democratic lawmakers and police officers to pursue their civil suits against Trump for his alleged role in inciting the violence on January 6, 2021.

The court, led by Judge Sri Srinivasan, stated that Trump was acting in his personal capacity during the events, separating his conduct from his official presidential duties. This distinction undermines Trump's defense and emphasizes that U.S. presidents do not have blanket immunity, particularly for actions perceived as personal or political. Although Trump's statements may still be debated under First Amendment protection, the court's focus was on the ability to bring lawsuits against him, rather than the merits of the cases themselves.

Special counsel Jack Smith's separate criminal case against Trump for attempting to overturn his 2020 election defeat, coupled with a similar rejection of Trump's immunity claim in the election subversion criminal trial overseen by Judge Tanya Chutkan, has intensified the legal pressure on the former president. The civil lawsuits seek damages for the harm caused by the riot and aim to hold Trump accountable for the violence that transpired. Plaintiffs, including Rep. Eric Swalwell and Capitol police officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, allege that Trump incited the Capitol violence and responded to the chaos with approval.

House Democrats like Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters, and Eric Swalwell have filed lawsuits seeking accountability and damages, bolstering the narrative of Trump's direct involvement in the events of January 6. While Trump's lawyer Jesse Binnall has remained silent on the ruling, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung downplayed the decision as "limited, narrow and procedural."

The federal appeals court's decision does not preclude Trump from seeking further review by the full appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court. Patrick Malone, representing the suing officers, hailed the decision as a step toward accountability for actions that threaten democracy. The ruling also clarified that the Westfall Act's protection does not apply to Trump's actions on the day of the Capitol attack, as it only covers federal employees acting within the scope of their employment.

As Trump faces the prospect of running for the 2024 Republican nomination against President Joe Biden, these ongoing lawsuits and criminal investigations add to his legal woes. The court's procedural ruling allows the lawsuits to proceed without yet addressing the substantive claims against Trump. This decision marks a significant legal defeat for Trump, who has long asserted that his presidential role granted him wide-ranging immunity from legal consequences stemming from the Capitol riot.

Conservative Bias:

Once again, the liberal activist judges are out to sabotage a great American president. The D.C. Circuit's decision to strip President Trump of his rightful presidential immunity is nothing short of a judicial coup, orchestrated by the left and their cronies in the courts. This is a blatant attack on the presidency itself, a witch hunt that continues to persecute Trump for the crime of loving his country and fighting for the American people. The so-called 'unanimous decision,' including a supposed nod from a Trump appointee, is just a facade to lend credibility to this travesty of justice. It's clear that the deep state and the radical Democrats, desperate to cling to power, will stop at nothing to take down Trump, fabricating claims that he incited violence. They ignore the real issues at hand and focus on this political theater, hoping to distract the public from their own failures and the destruction they've wrought on this nation. They can't stand that Trump represents the true voice of the people, and so they weaponize the legal system against him, hoping to block his triumphant return in 2024.

Liberal Bias:

The wheels of justice are finally turning, and not a moment too soon. The D.C. Circuit's ruling is a resounding affirmation that no one, not even a former president like Donald Trump, is above the law. This landmark decision is a victory for democracy and a direct rebuke to Trump's dangerous and authoritarian claims of immunity. The court, bravely led by Judge Sri Srinivasan, has pierced through the veil of Trump's lies and his reckless disregard for the Constitution. It's about time that Trump is held accountable for his egregious actions, inciting an insurrection that threatened the very heart of our democracy. The plaintiffs, heroes like Rep. Eric Swalwell and the Capitol police officers, are standing up to a bully who thought he could escape the consequences of his despicable behavior. The court's decision is a beacon of hope, signaling that the days of Trump's impunity are over. As he cowers before the might of the law, his enablers and sycophants, like his silent lawyer and dismissive campaign spokesperson, cannot hide the truth of his misconduct. This ruling is not just a procedural step; it's a declaration that the rule of law still exists, even in the face of Trump's relentless assault on our democratic institutions.

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