On Tuesday, the Justice Department refused to protect a congressional ally of previous President Donald J. Trump in a lawsuit accusing them of inciting supporters at a rally in the hours leading up to Jan. 11. 6 Storming the Capitol.
Law enforcement officials sure that Representative Mo Brooks, R-A., was acting outside his duties in an occasional speech just prior the attack, according to a court filing. Mr. Brooks asked the administration to certify that he was working as a government employee during the rally; Had you agreed to protect him, he would have been dismissed from the lawsuit and replaced by the United States as defendant.
“The record indicates that Brooks’ appearance on Jan. 6 the rally was an electoral activity, and it is not an act of the United States to bias candidates in federal elections,” the Department of Justice wrote.
“Members of Congress are subject to a set of restrictions that carefully distinguish between their official functions, on the one hand, and those of the campaign, on the other.”
The Justice Department’s decision shows that it is also likely that legal protection will be denied to Mr. Trump in the lawsuit. Legal experts have watched the case closely because Biden’s Justice Department has continued to fight for Mr. immunity to be granted. Trump in a libel suit in 2019 denied allegations that he raped writer E. Jane Carroll and said she accused him of attracting attention.
This substitution provides wide protection for government officials and is generally limited to government employees who are being sued for actions that stem from their work. In Carroll’s case, the Chamber cited other defamation lawsuits as a precedent.
Brooks’ decision also conflicted with the Justice Department’s longstanding wide view of actions in the scope of federal employee employment, which made it firm to use courts to grip government employees accountable for wrongdoing.
Mr. Brooks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Also Tuesday, House lawyers said they declined to protect Mr. Brooks in the lawsuit. One House attorney wrote in the court memorandum that he “does not challenge any institutional action of the House,” “it is not appropriate for him to participate in litigation.”
The Justice Department and the House of Representatives filed their memos on Tuesday, the deadline set by Justice Amit B. Mehta of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit, filed in March by Representative Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., accuses Mr. Brooks inciting a riot and conspiring to forbid a person from assuming office or performing official duties.
Mr. Swalwell accused mr. brooks, mr. Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. He played a key role in instigating the January 6 attack during a rally near the White House in the hours prior the storming of the Capitol.
Citing excerpts from their speeches, A. Swalwell accused the men of violating federal law by conspiring to forbid an elected official from holding office or from performing official duties, arguing that their speeches drove Mr. Trump supporters believe they were acting on orders to attack the Capitol.
Mr. Swalwell alleged that their letters encouraged Mr. Trump supporters are illegally forcing members of Congress out of their rooms and destroying parts of the Capitol to forbid lawmakers from carrying out their duties.
During the rally, Mr. Brooks told us that the United States was “in peril unlike what it has been in decades, perhaps centuries.” He said their ancestors “sacrificed their blood, sweat, tears, riches, and sometimes their lives” for the sake of the country.
“Are you willing to do the alike?” asked the crowd. “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?”
Mr. Swalwell said the defendants in his lawsuit incited the mob and continued to hoist incorrect beliefs that the elections were stolen.
“As a direct and foreseeable consequence of the defendants’ incorrect and incidental allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the defendants’ candid calls for violence at the rally, violent mobs attacked the U.S. Capitol.” Swalwell said in his complaint. Since then, many of those involved in the attack have revealed that they were acting on what they believed to be orders from previous President Trump to serve their country.
In June, Mr. Brooks asked the Justice Department to protect him in the case. He cited the Westfall Act, which essentially replaces the Department of Justice as a defendant when federal employees are sued for actions considered to be within their scope of work, according to the court document.
He described his speech on January 3rd. 6 As part of his job, saying his duties include giving speeches, making statements about policy, and persuading lawmakers.
The Ministry of Justice rejected this assertion.
“Incitement or conspiracy to conduct a violent attack on the United States Congress is not within the scope of the employment of a representative—or of any federal employee—and therefore is not the type of conduct for which the United States would properly be substituted as a defendant under Westfall Act,” the section wrote. “Brooks does not argue otherwise. Instead, he denies the complaint’s allegations that he conspired to instigate the attack on the Capitol.”
Mr. Trump did not seek the government to replace him as a defendant in the lawsuit under Westfall Act. But he argued in court filings that the statements he made on January 3rd. 6 are covered with wide immunity, that he cannot be prosecuted for committing it and that the lawsuit violated his rights to free speech.
Should the judge deny Mr. Trump’s allegations, he could ask the Department of Justice to intervene on his behalf. but its decision in mr. Brooks’ case reduced her chances of compliance.