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D.C. Appeals Court Rules Trump Can Be Sued for Inciting Jan. 6 Attack

Katherine Pompilio
Friday, December 1, 2023, 11:07 AM
 In Blassingame, the court found that Trump is not protected under absolute immunity from civil claims for damages incurred during the Jan. 6 riot.

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On Dec. 1, a three judge panel for the D.C. Circuit ruled in Blassingame v. Trump that former President Donald Trump can be sued for civil damages for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The court ruled that Trump is not protected by presidential “absolute immunity from civil damages claims predicated on his official acts” as established in Nixon v. Fitzgerald

According to the panel, Trump cannot enjoy this immunity because his actions as alleged by the plaintiffs leading up to and on Jan. 6, 2021—including conspiring with allies to “obtain a second term despite his defeat in the 2020”—were not part of his official presidential duties, and therefore are not protected under absolute immunity.

Writing for the court, Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan asserted that, “When a first-term President opts to seek a second term, his campaign to win re-election is not an official presidential act.”

You can read the opinion here or below: 

Katherine Pompilio is an associate editor of Lawfare. She holds a B.A. with honors in political science from Skidmore College.

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