Three Lawsuits Against Donald Trump Over Jan. 6 Upheld By Judge

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360

Three lawsuits filed by police officers involved in the defense of the Capitol and now targeting former President Donald Trump with their litigation were upheld this week by federal Judge Amit Mehta.

As outlined in a court document from Mehta, Trump sought the dismissal of the three police lawsuits on the basis of the argument “he is absolutely immune from suit because the acts complained of fall within the “outer perimeter” of his presidential responsibilities.” Mehta already rejected an effort by Trump to dismiss other law enforcement officers’ litigation against him over the attack on the Capitol, and the judge referred back to the reasoning he used in that case when outlining his decision about Trump’s attempt to get these three matters dismissed. Specifically, the court “already rejected… Trump’s assertion of immunity” in earlier proceedings, as the judge explained it.

“To deny a President immunity from civil damages is no small step,” Mehta wrote in those earlier proceedings. “The court well understands the gravity of its decision. But the alleged facts of this case are without precedent, and the court believes that its decision is consistent with the purposes behind such immunity… [The] President’s actions here do not relate to his duties of faithfully executing the laws, conducting foreign affairs, commanding the armed forces, or managing the Executive Branch. They entirely concern his efforts to remain in office for a second term. These are unofficial acts, so the separation-of-powers concerns that justify the President’s broad immunity are not present here.”

One of the cases upheld by Mehta this week is from U.S. Capitol Police officer Briana Kirkland, who, like other officers who brought litigation against Trump, is seeking the imposition of financial penalties on the ex-president. “As the leader of this violent mob, who took their cues from his campaign rhetoric and personal Tweets and traveled from around the country to the nation’s capital at Trump’s invitation for the January 6 rally, Trump was in a position of extraordinary influence over his followers, who committed assault and battery on Briana Kirkland,” the officer’s lawsuit asserts. “Trump, by his words and conduct, directed the mob that stormed the Capitol and assaulted and battered Briana Kirkland.” Kirkland suffered “a traumatic brain injury that would cost her a year of her personal and professional life, and physical and personal injuries that will be with her indefinitely,” her case added.

Trump, meanwhile, is continuing to face investigative scrutiny from interests ranging from the House panel examining the Capitol riot to personnel at the Justice Department and the office of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. As for the numerous assaults on police that took place during the Capitol violence, two of the longest sentences imposed for Capitol rioters so far were given to mob members who assaulted police, including one — D.C. man Mark Ponder — who attacked officers including Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell and received 63 months in prison for his actions in D.C. Julian Khater, who sprayed bear spray at police personnel including officer Brian Sicknick, who died soon afterwards, was recently offered a plea deal by federal prosecutors that would leave him facing advisory sentencing guidelines of up to over eight years in prison.