As Donald Trump faces three civil lawsuits accusing him of instigating the Capitol attack last year, his actions during his Jan. 6, 2021 speech were questioned by a federal judge in Washington, DC, Monday. The judge considered whether the former US President is immune from liability related to his followers and supporters storming to the US Capitol and attacking it.

Judge Amit Mehta said during a court hearing that Trump on Jan. 6 asked his supporters to march to the Capitol. He also noted that the former President didn't speak up for at least two hours asking his supporters to end the violence, reported CNN. Mehta asked, "What do I do about the fact the President didn't denounce the conduct immediately... and sent a tweet that arguably exacerbated things?" He wondered if the President "plausibly agreed with the conduct" of his supporters inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year.

Mehta seemed to be skeptical of Trump's immunity claim, but the judge did not show whether he plans to allow the lawsuits to proceed, according to The Hill. At the end of the almost five-hour hearing Monday, the judge didn't give his ruling.

A majority of the hearing is part of a trio of lawsuits related to the riot seeking to hold Trump and fellow Republicans like Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama accountable for it. The three lawsuits were brought by Capitol cops Sidney Hemby and James Blassingame, and Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell of California and 10 other Democrats. According to the lawmakers, they were threatened by the former President and others to stop the congressional session that would certify the presidential election on Jan. 6 last year.

At the rally, if Trump's call to action was misinterpreted by his supporters, and they still became violent, "Wouldn't somebody who's a reasonable person say, 'That's not what I meant?'" Mehta asked an attorney arguing against the lawsuits. Mehta also said that before Trump spoke up, his son Donald Trump Jr., who is another defendant in court Monday, sent a text to the White House chief of staff asking for the then-President to condemn the violence.

But according to Trump and his aides, he and others were speaking on Jan. 6 as public officials. They said that they weren't agreeing to be part of a conspiracy with the crowd that had become violent.

Jesse Binnall, Trump’s lawyer, said that everything he said while he was the President should be immune from liability and is protected from any lawsuits, because it was all part of his official actions as the leader of America. This includes what Trump said on Jan. 6, 2021 as well as his conversations with Georgia officials in which he asked them to "find" votes. Binnall also said that Trump encouraged his supporters to act "peacefully and patriotically."

In the past few weeks, Mehta has made it clear that he sees the role of powerful people, including Trump, as a significant driver of the Jan. 6 attack, reported Politico. During sentencing for John Lolos, one of the Jan. 6 defendants, the judge said that he saw the low-level Jan. 6 defendants as “pawns” paying the price for the lies of others who are more powerful.

Donald Trump
Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan on October 18, 2021 in New York City. Photo by James Devaney/GC Images

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