Capitol Insurrection Could Cost Donald Trump Restitution, Law Professor Says
Someone could end up paying a lot of restitution for the damages incurred during the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, including both government property and injuries suffered by citizens. According to law professor Laurence Tribe, it’s actually quite possible that Donald Trump could be the one who ends up being held responsible.
Less than a week after the attempted insurrection, Forbes floated the idea of restitution, bringing up the issue of liability for business owners and civic leaders involved in pushing Trump’s cause, noting that the Justice Department had already shied away from the possibility of criminal charges for Trump, but that individuals could bring civil cases.
Noting “considerable obstacles to litigation, particularly against former presidents,” Tribe says those obstacles may make successful civil suits difficult, but not impossible. He credits Representative Eric Swalwell’s lawsuit as “a promising roadmap,” saying that it sidesteps the “free speech” claims that Trump apologists have used to defend incitement of the mob.
“They seek no damages for anyone’s speech but invoke it only as constitutionally unprotected evidence that the speakers engaged in conspiratorial action. “Speech” that evidences or is part of an unlawful agreement to act is obviously afforded no constitutional protection.”
He also believes that special immunities for actions taken by a president won’t be relevant, because it applies to acts done in the scope of the job, and Trump’s election lies and incitement were done outside the “outer perimeter of official responsibility.”
His full opinion is available here.
According to NPR, damages done at the Capitol alone topped $30 million in mid-February, with further expenses expected as security and other costs accrued.