Former President Donald Trump can be sued in civil lawsuits alleging he was responsible for damages incurred during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, the Justice Department said Monday, rejecting Trump's claims that he has absolute immunity for civil action.
The legal brief – filed by federal prosecutors at the request of judges on Washington, D.C.'s appeals court – explicitly states that the Justice Department has not determined that Trump should be held liable, both criminally or civilly, for the Capitol breach. Instead, the court documents urge the court to rule that the former president cannot be completely shielded from every action he took as president.
Members of Congress and U.S. Capitol Police officers sued Trump after the riot, alleging in several separate lawsuits that his words on the White House Ellipse to a group of his supporters directly thrust the mob onto the grounds of the Capitol. While the Justice Department did not take a stance on the validity of those allegations, prosecutors wrote that presidential immunity does not "include incitement of imminent private violence."