Does Trump Have Immunity From Lawsuits? The President Insists He Does
In addition to winning the presidency, Donald Trump thinks he won immunity from being sued for inciting violence at his rallies during the 2016 election. Really. In response to a lawsuit filed by three protesters who felt Trump encouraged his supporters to attack them during a March 2016 rally, the president's lawyer released a statement on Friday saying, "Mr. Trump is immune from suit because he is President of the United States."
The three protesters allege that Trump's supporters, two in particular, became physically aggressive after he shouted "get 'em out of here!" They are seeking damages from the two Trump supporters in question, as well as from the president and his campaign.
"Oh look who we have here, some wonderful people, aw," Trump said during the Louisville rally the plaintiffs attended when he noticed them in the audience. "Get out of here! Get out! Get out!" he added. He then joined his supporters in chanting "USA! USA!" before finally urging, "Alright, forget about those people! Get 'em out of here!"
This was far from the only time Trump demanded that protesters be removed from his rallies. In fact, "Get them outta here" became somewhat of a trademark phrase he and his supporters came to embrace. During a rally in Iowa City, he pointed at a protester before gleefully shouting, "Get 'em out. Ready? Are you ready? Get 'em outta here! Get 'em outta here! Get the hell outta here!"
Trump and his team unsuccessfully attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed a couple of weeks ago. Federal Judge David J. Hale rejected the request, arguing that the presence of hate group members in the audience, combined with the fact that violence had already erupted at previous Trump rallies, made "ordering the removal of an African-American woman [...] particularly reckless."
Hale added, "It is plausible that Trump's direction to 'get 'em out of here' advocated the use of force. It was an order, an instruction, a command."
Indeed, a filing by Alvin Bamberger, one of the Trump supporters who physically touched the protester, states that his actions were in direct response to the president's words. It read, “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."
"Bamberger had no prior intention to act as he did," it continues. "Bamberger would not have acted as he did without Trump and/or the Trump Campaign’s specific urging and inspiration."
Despite how long the list of violent incidents at Trump's rallies is, Trump has repeatedly rejected the notion that he might have been responsible for inciting such actions and even claimed that supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were being encouraged to attend his events and cause disruptions.
Regardless of whether or not he believes he's personally responsible, a federal judge declining to dismiss the case against him doesn't quite make President Trump seem as immune as he'd like to believe.