Former President Donald Trump on September 15, 2023, in Washington, D.C. A panel of three judges ruled on Friday that Trump can face lawsuits for allegedly inciting the January 6, 2021, riot at the United States Capitol building. ANNA MONEYMAKER/GETTY IMAGES

Judges Open Donald Trump up to Flood of Lawsuits

Former President Donald Trump can be sued for inciting the January 6, 2021, riot at the United States Capitol building, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

Trump faces three lawsuits filed by Capitol police officers and members of Congress over the Jan. 6 riot, when a group of his supporters violently protested the 2020 election results in a failed effort to block certification of then-President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Lawsuits allege that Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud, which have not been substantiated, as well as his speech at the infamous “Stop the Steal” rally earlier that day, helped incite the riot.

Trump’s attorneys have argued his presidential immunity protects him from liability, arguing that his words involved “matters of public concern,” the Associated Press reported. But a federal court on Friday declined to dismiss the lawsuits on that basis.

The three-judge panel noted, however, the ruling was not the final word on whether Trump’s presidential immunity applies to the case and does reflect “no view on the ultimate merits of the claims,” according to the Associated Press.

Judges open Trump new lawsuits

The panel found that Trump was operating “in his personal capacity as a presidential candidate,” rather than his official capacity, at the time of the rally, Reuters reported.

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