Former President Trump has just lost his fight for immunity in the federal appeals court in Washington DC, at least for now.
The court ruled that his actions surrounding January 6th were not in his official capacity as president but rather as a presidential candidate.
But the fight isn’t over. Trump can still make his case in the lower courts and potentially get immunity.
Here’s more from NBC News:
A federal appeals court on Friday rejected former President Donald Trump’s bid to dismiss civil claims seeking to hold him to account for the Jan. 6 riot, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol, denying his claims of presidential immunity, at least for now.
“The sole issue before us is whether President Trump has demonstrated an entitlement to official-act immunity for his actions leading up to and on January 6 as alleged in the complaints. We answer no, at least at this stage of the proceedings,” a panel of judges from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. said in its ruling.
They noted that Trump is alleged to have instigated the riot during the course of his re-election campaign, and said, “When a first-term President opts to seek a second term, his campaign to win re-election is not an official presidential act.”
The ruling allows a large number of lawsuits seeking to hold Trump accountable for the deadly riot to move forward. The cases had all been stayed while the appeals court weighed the immunity issue, which they said would have to be revisited in the lower courts.
“In the proceedings ahead in the district court, President Trump will have the opportunity to show that his alleged actions in the runup to and on January 6 were taken in his official capacity as President rather than in his unofficial capacity as presidential candidate,” the ruling said.
The ruling also suggested he might have an uphill climb.
“In arguing that he is entitled to official-act immunity in the cases before us, President Trump does not dispute that he engaged in his alleged actions up to and on January 6 in his capacity as a candidate,” Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote in the court’s opinion. “But he thinks that does not matter. Rather, in his view, a President’s speech on matters of public concern is invariably an official function, and he was engaged in that function when he spoke at the January 6 rally and in the leadup to that day. We cannot accept that rationale,” he wrote.
“While Presidents are often exercising official responsibilities when they speak on matters of public concern, that is not always the case,” he continued. “When a sitting President running for re-election speaks in a campaign ad or in accepting his political party’s nomination at the party convention, he typically speaks on matters of public concern. Yet he does so in an unofficial, private capacity as office-seeker, not an official capacity as office-holder. And actions taken in an unofficial capacity cannot qualify for official-act immunity.”
The three judge panel is made of up of an Obama nominee (Srinivasan), a Clinton nominee and a Trump nominee. They all concurred with Srinivasan’s opinion.