District Judge Amit P. Mehta contradicted Trump attorney Jesse Binnall after he argued that presidents are entitled to immunity even if they are inciting a riot.
At a hearing on Monday, Mehta heard pleadings on three lawsuits that seek to hold former President Donald Trump accountable for Jan. 6 by invoking a law passed to fight the Ku Klux Klan. The lawsuits are being brought by two Democratic members of Congress and two Capitol Police officers who battled rioters on Jan. 6.
The judge noted that the qualifications for presidential immunity are based on a "functional approach."
"What function was President Trump performing by virtue of the various tweets... on January 6?" Mehta asked.
But Binnall argued that Trump is immune from lawsuits regardless of the statements that he made.
The judge asked if Binnall "would have me ignore what [Trump] said in his entirety."
"Yes, sir," the Trump attorney replied.
Binnall then claimed that Trump's Jan. 6 rally was in no way related to politics.
"That's not true, at least not according to the allegations," Mehta warned.
Binnall also asserted that Trump enjoyed presidential immunity when he contacted Georgia election officials about the election results.
In response, Joseph M. Sellers, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told the judge that the Supreme Court has said that presidents can be held liable for “purely private actions."
Sellers said that Trump's speech on Jan. 6 qualified as a private action because he was advocating for his campaign instead of election integrity in general.
Read some of the reports below.
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