Trump Says He Can’t Be Sued For Inciting Violence At His Rallies Because He Won The Election
Acts of violence against protesters at Donald Trump’s rallies both before and after his inauguration as US President is well documented.
Untold numbers of people have denounced the ‘so called’ president for inciting violence at his rallies. But so far only a few have had enough courage to take legal action over the violence.
Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah, and Henry Brousseau have all filed lawsuits against Trump supporters who assaulted them at a rally — and Donald Trump himself, who incited the attack.
Now Trump is the president, of course. And while the lawsuit grinds on, with more accusations added last week, he claims he won immunity along with the election.
“Mr. Trump is immune from suit because he is President of the United States,” his lawyers wrote Friday, rebutting a complaint filed by three protesters who claimed Trump incited a riot against them at a Louisville event in March 2016.
The lawsuit claims they were assaulted at a Trump campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky, where Mr Trump drew attention to their peaceful protests and directed the crowd to “get them the hell out.”
A video which went viral online shows one of the plaintiffs, Ms Nwanguma, being shoved repeatedly by attendee Alvin Bamberger. Ms. Shah and Mr. Brousseau say they were shoved and punched by attendee Matthew Heimbach, an alleged white supremacist from the area.
They are now seeking unspecified damages for “physical injuries, emotional distress, humiliation and mental anguish.”
Trump’s lawyers attempted to dismiss the suit earlier this month, arguing his words were protected as free speech. But a federal judge let the case go forward on 2 April, noting that speech inciting violence is not protected by the First Amendment.
Now, according to The Independent, Trump’s lawyers are trying a new tack: arguing that Trump did not give his orders to the crowd specifically. In a federal court filing on 14 April, Trump’s lawyers acknowledge that he spoke the words “get them out of here,” but deny that Mr. Trump’s statement was “directed at the crowd.”
As reported by The Independent:
Attorney Gregory L Belzley, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, was incredulous.
“If he wasn’t directing it to the crowd, who was he directing it to?”
Henry Brousseau, the plaintiff who claims to have been punched at the rally, was similarly unpersuaded.
“You can’t say, ‘Get em out of here’ and just magically hope or think that people aren’t going to take it literally,” Brousseau said.
Both Belzley and Brousseau highlighted the importance of a lawsuit recently filed by the Trump supporter captured on video shoving Ms. Nwanguma in which he claims his actions at the rally were directly motivated by Trump’s words.
While Bamberger admits to roughing a woman in the crowd, his lawyers write that “to the extent that Bamberger acted, he did so in response to — and inspired by — Trump and/or the Trump Campaign’s urging to remove the protesters.”
The concept of presidential immunity stems from 1982 Supreme Court ruling, which states that presidents cannot be liable for damages in civil suits over their actions as President. But subsequent courts have found presidents are not immune from federal litigation concerning their non-official acts.
Since Donald Trump was still a candidate at the time of the rally, Mr. Belzely says his actions are not considered official presidential acts.