Former President Trump is not immune from being sued for Jan. 6 attacks

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A federal appeals court ruled former President Donald Trump is not immune from being sued for the Jan. 6 attacks, despite Trump’s claims that he is protected because of presidential immunity. This ruling paves the way for several lawsuits brought by Capitol Police officers and Democratic members of Congress against Trump for civil damages.

“What Trump was claiming was that while he’s president, anything he does that has anything to do with the public interest is absolutely immune from challenge under the law,” Paul Bender, professor at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, said.

He is relying on a case from the Nixon administration which states that if a president does something official during his time in office, he is immune from doing what was official. It is most likely that the Court held that Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 were not official, but instead, it was campaign activity, according to Bender.

“That’s a pretty simple decision. A pretty simple question. I don’t know why the opinion is so long, and I don’t think it’s going to be very important because it’s such an outrageously broad claim that the president can do anything while he is president that has something to do with public interest and he can’t be sued for that. Where did that come from?” Bender said.

The Court stated that if Trump can prove that what he did was official, which is a hard line to differentiate, then he would be immune, It’s hard to gather what he is actually charged with, which makes no sense, according to Bender, since it’s difficult to claim immunity if there’s no clear indication on what the immunity is being claimed from.

Paul Bender, Professor at Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

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