Donald Trump can be sued over the deadly Capitol riots last year, a federal judge has ruled.
On January 6, 2021, MAGA supporters and QAnon conspiracy theorists stormed the Capitol in Washington DC to prevent Congress from formalising and finalising then-President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the election.
Trump was banned from Twitter for life following the riots 'due to the risk of further incitement of violence', and he was impeached for a second time. Some insurrectionists, including the ‘QAnon Shaman', say they were 'duped' by the former president and believe he's to blame for the chaos.
In a speech before his supporters stormed the Capitol, Trump called on them to 'fight like hell' amid his baseless claims that the election was stolen from him. In a 112-page ruling, District Judge Amit Mehta said this 'can reasonably be viewed as a call for collective action', as per CNBC.
The judge also cited specific quotes featuring the word 'we', including, 'We will not take it anymore'; 'We will stop the steal'; 'We will never give up'; 'We will never concede'; 'All Mike Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president'; and 'We're going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue'.
By using 'we' in this context, Mehta said it 'implies that the president and rally-goers would be acting together toward a common goal... that is the essence of a civil conspiracy'.
This comes after three lawsuits were filed against Trump last year (two from Democratic House members, and another by Capitol Police officers) accusing him of inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol. They've accused Trump, the Proud Boys, Warboys and other rioters of violating the Ku Klux Act of 1871, which 'proscribes conspiracies that, by means of force, intimidation, or threats, prevent federal officers from discharging their duties or accepting or holding office'.
The lawsuits allege that prior to the riots, 'President Trump and his allies purposely sowed seeds of doubt about the validity of the presidential election and promoted or condoned acts of violence by the President’s followers, all as part of a scheme to overturn the November 2020 presidential election'.
Trump had been attempting to have the lawsuits dismissed, citing a president's immunity from civil litigation. 'After all, 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,' Mehta continued.
'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.'
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