CNN Legal Analyst Warns Appeals Court Ruling On Trump ‘Enormously Consequential’

[Screenshot CNN]

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
Font Size:

CNN’s senior legal analyst Elie Honig warned Friday that an appeals court ruling that rejected former President Donald Trump’s attempt to dismiss civil claims holding him accountable for the Jan. 6 riot is “enormously consequential.”

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington D.C. ruled that lawsuits alleging Trump’s responsibility for the Jan. 6 riot can continue to move forward after they had all been stayed while the court weighed whether Trump was immune.

Honig warned the ruling was “consequential.”

“When it comes to this notion of immunity, there are some things we do know and some things we do not know. Here’s what we do know: a federal official, the president on down, cannot be sued civilly if the conduct has something to do with their actual job, if it has something to do with the president acting as president … But if it’s outside the official job, then yes, you can be sued,” Honig said. “And what the court of appeals has said here is that because what Donald Trump did in and around January 6th was outside the scope of the presidency, yes, he can be sued.” (RELATED: ‘She’s Asking For A Nuclear Option’: Jonathan Turley Reacts To ‘Breathtaking’ Demands From NY AG In Trump Case)

“Now here’s the bigger issue…Donald Trump is currently making a similar argument with respect to the criminal charges pending against him in Washington, D.C., relating to the 2020 election, and he probably will make similar arguments elsewhere. We do not yet know, but we may find out whether there is such thing as criminal immunity for a federal official like the president, but this is a really important decision, because even if there is such thing as criminal immunity, now we have a court of appeals saying ‘even if criminal immunity exists, it wouldn’t apply to Donald Trump, because what he did January 6th is outside the scope of his official job as president.”

A slew of Capitol police officers and members of Congress present at the Capitol during the riot sued Trump in 2021 for civil damages alleging his speech and statements “sparked the ensuing riot at the Capitol.”

Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan of the appeals court ruled that “when a first-term President opts to seek a second term, his campaign to win re-election is not an official presidential act.”

“The Office of the Presidency as an institution is agnostic about who will occupy it next. And campaigning to gain that office is not an official act of the office.”

The court did rule, however, that Trump may continue to try and prove that he was acting as president rather than candidate when he gave his speech to protesters prior to the riot.