Rep. Mo Brooks asked a federal judge to declare that he was immune from a civil lawsuit filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) alleging that the Alabama Republican was among several high-profile political figures responsible for inciting supporters of Donald Trump to riot and overrun the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Floating a theory of immunity in a 44-page filing on Tuesday, Brooks claimed he was simply “cooperating” with the “White House,” a decision affecting his ability to perform his congressional duties.
Swalwell’s complaint, filed in March, contends that Brooks—along with Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Rudy Giuliani—”convinced the mob that something was occurring that— if actually true—might indeed justify violence to some, and then sent that mob to the Capitol with violence-laced calls for immediate action.”
In an unusual series of reply filings, Brooks—who is representing himself in the matter—claimed his incendiary speech during Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse fell within the scope of his duty as a member of Congress. However, the lawmaker also noted that he has been “faithful to his wife” of 45 years, has never received a speeding ticket or smoked tobacco, and that none of his four children have been divorced.
Turning to the substance of his request, Brooks urged a federal judge to find he qualifies for Westfall Act immunity, which would require the allegations against him to relate to an official duty.
The Department of Justice recently urged the judge to reject that request, finding the allegations against Brooks did not fit that bill.
“Instigating such an attack plainly could not be within the scope of federal employment,” the Justice Department wrote late last month.
Brooks begged to differ with the DOJ’s legal and factual interpretation of the day’s events.
“It is absolutely a part of the job and duties of the U.S. Congressman from Alabama’s 5th Congressional District that the Congressman cooperate with the White House whenever possible and appropriate to protect and promote the direct and indirect jobs tied to federal activities in Alabama’s 5th Congressional District,” Brooks wrote. “Cooperating, or not cooperating, with the White House affects a Congressman’s effectiveness. Certainly rejecting the request of the White House to give a speech at the Ellipse could hurt a Congressman’s effectiveness. This is particularly true given the importance of the White House to space, defense and other jobs in a Congressman’s district.”
The congressman and Trump acolyte also contended that the rally was not campaign activity for him or the former president, claiming he only agreed to speak at the event the day before it took place.
The DOJ last week issued a decision concluding that it could not defend Brooks because his rally speech did not constitute an act within the scope of his employment as a member of Congress, stressing that a lawmaker’s job is to pass laws, not instigate an attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“The complaint alleges that Brooks conspired with others to instigate a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol and incited a riot there,” the Justice Department’s trial attorney Taheerah K. El-Amin noted in the 22-page brief.
Brooks was widely criticized for delivering one of the more inflammatory speeches to Trump supporters in the lead up to siege on the U.S. Capitol, telling the crowd that “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”
“Now, our ancestors sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes, and sometimes their lives, to give us, their descendants, an America that is the greatest nation in world history,” Brooks proclaimed on Jan. 6. “So I have a question for you: Are you willing to do the same? My answer is yes. Louder! Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?”
In the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Brooks implored those that watched the event unfold to discard their eyes and ears, falsely claiming the whole ordeal was orchestrated by Trump’s political opponents.
“Evidence, much public, surfacing that many Capitol assaulters were fascist ANTIFAs, not Trump supporters,” Brooks tweeted on Jan. 7. “Again, time will reveal truth. Don’t rush to judgment. Don’t be fooled by #FakeNewsMedia whose political judgment drives their reporting. My view: fully prosecute all!”
Read the full reply filing below.
[image via YouTube screengrab]
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