The consolidated cases include legal challenges launched by manifold members of Congress who rushed for cover during the deadly riot at the Capitol as well as Capitol Police officers who allege Trump conspired to block them from conducting their duties.
DOJ’s stance comes as Trump has appealed a lower court ruling deeming he is not immune from the suits given that a president’s efforts to “secure or perpetuate incumbency” are not part of the White House role that otherwise prevents the president from facing civil suits for actions taken through the office.
The government in its brief draws a clear line, arguing the broad protections for the president should not cover statements inciting violence.
The brief doesn’t specifically back the claims from the 11 lawmakers that Trump incited the riot, instead noting that they “plausibly allege” the former president’s speech that day motivated the attack.
DOJ ultimately encourages the court to make a narrow ruling, calling the case a poor vehicle for determining “when and how to draw a line between the president’s official and electoral speech.”
The DOJ contribution to the case comes as it has its own criminal investigation into Trump’s effort to remain in power — something the department only briefly addresses in a footnote dismissing any connection between outside civil suits and their own probe.