The Republican on whether Trump will pay for his Jan.6 efforts
Capitol Police officers deserve their day in court.
So said the Department of Justice last week in a 32-page court filing stating that former President Donald Trump could face civil lawsuits in connection with his role in provoking the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at our nation’s Capitol.
This decision is worth cheering. While the department took no position on the facts of the cases regarding Trump’s culpability in spurring on the rioters, it made exactly the right call by saying that Trump’s statements before the attack on the Capitol were not part of his official duties as our nation’s chief executive. As such, he does not have immunity from legal challenges.
Trump had argued that he was protected by virtue of his office. The Justice Department, after months of deliberations, with two extensions in its filing deadline, wisely saw things quite differently.
“Speaking to the public on matters of public concern is a traditional function of the presidency, and the outer perimeter of the president’s office includes a vast realm of such speech,” the department wrote in its filing. “But that traditional function is one of public communication.
“It does not include incitement of imminent private violence of the sort the district court found that plaintiffs ‘complaints have plausibly alleged here.”
It’s important to remember that Trump, in a fiery address to his supporters at the Ellipse in advance of the Jan. 6 attack on the seat of our nation’s government, urged them to “fight like hell.” In the eyes of most non-biased observers, Trump laid out the kindling, lit the match that ignited the fire, and then, once the blaze had begun, fanned the flames that spread across the Capitol on that tragic, dark day. That’s surely a perfectly rational belief, anyway. What makes sense now is to let the cold eye of the law have a say in things.