Federal Judge Allows Jan. 6 Lawsuits Against Trump to Proceed Despite Criminal Case

Judge rules Trump's Jan 6 civil lawsuits can proceed, despite ongoing criminal case. Setback for Trump as public interest in prompt resolution of cases outweighs his immunity claims.

Olalekan Adigun
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Federal Judge Allows Jan. 6 Lawsuits Against Trump to Proceed Despite Criminal Case

Federal Judge Allows Jan. 6 Lawsuits Against Trump to Proceed Despite Criminal Case

A federal judge has ruled that lawsuits filed against former President Donald Trump over his actions on January 6, 2021 can proceed, despite the ongoing criminal case against him related to the Capitol riot and attempts to overturn the 2020 election. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta denied Trump's request to pause the civil cases, stating that the public has an interest in their prompt resolution.

The lawsuits, brought by Democratic lawmakers and police officers who defended the Capitol, seek to hold Trump liable for the harm they suffered during the attack. "The public has an interest in the prompt resolution of the civil lawsuits in addition to the criminal case," Judge Mehta said in his ruling.

While acknowledging that the civil cases and the criminal case "center on the former President's actions in the lead up to and on Jan. 6, 2021," the judge determined that Trump's immunity claims in the civil lawsuits can be considered without him having to admit to any specific actions he took that day. Judge Mehta ordered Trump to begin describing the basis for his claim that he is immune from the lawsuits because his actions on January 6 were part of his official duties as president.

Why this matters: The ruling is a significant legal setback for the former president, who faces mounting legal challenges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. The decision could pave the way for Trump to be held civilly liable for the violence at the Capitol, in addition to the criminal charges he faces.

Trump had argued that moving forward with the civil trial could reveal his defense strategy for the criminal case, but Judge Mehta dismissed this argument, finding that the factual overlap between the cases is not significant enough to warrant a stay. The judge, who has also presided over cases involving others charged in the January 6 riot, said that appropriate safeguards can be put in place to allow the lawsuits to advance without infringing on Trump's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments next week on Trump's claim that he is immune from criminal prosecution in the election interference case brought by special counsel Jack Smith. The ruling will determine whether Trump will have to stand trial in the case accusing him of a conspiracy to stay in power after losing the 2020 election.

Key Takeaways

  • Judge rules lawsuits against Trump over Jan 6 can proceed despite criminal case.
  • Lawsuits seek to hold Trump liable for harm suffered during Capitol attack.
  • Judge rejects Trump's request to pause civil cases, cites public interest.
  • Ruling is a legal setback for Trump, could lead to civil liability for Jan 6.
  • Supreme Court to hear arguments on Trump's immunity claim in election case.