The U.S. Department of Justice, in a filing on Tuesday, refused to defend Republican Congressman Mo Brooks in a lawsuit that alleges he plotted to instigate the Jan.6 riot on the U.S. Capitol.
Brooks had asked the Justice Department to consider him covered by the Westfall Act, which protects federal employees from being sued for actions taken in the course of their work, regarding the lawsuit brought by Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell.
The Justice Department case could indicate that he may not defend former President Donald Trump, who was also prosecuted by Swalwell for allegedly conspiring to incite the attack.
The department said in the court file that it determined that Brooks’ appearance at the Jan.6 rally – in which Trump urged his supporters to stop certifying Joe Biden’s election victory – was an activity of campaign and was not part of his job as a congressman.
“Members of Congress are subject to a host of restrictions that carefully distinguish between their official duties, on the one hand, and their campaign duties, on the other,” the department said on the record.
“Inciting or plotting to instigate a violent attack on the Congress of the United States is not within the scope of the employment of a representative – or any federal employee – and therefore is not the kind of conduct for which the United States is properly substituted as a defendant under the Westfall Act, ”he said.
Trump supporters stormed the Capitol after the rally, breaking down barriers, clashing with police and forcing members of Congress to flee to safety.
“Today’s actions strongly suggest that the Justice Department will also refuse to defend Trump’s action on January 6,” said Anne Tindall, lawyer for the advocacy group Protect Democracy, who represents two Capitol Hill police officers. in a separate litigation against Trump.
Last month, the Justice Department urged a court to substitute the U.S. government as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll, a writer who accuses Trump of raping her a quarter of a century ago and to defame it by denying it while he was president.
Legal experts said the department’s actions in the case were aimed at protecting the presidency rather than the personal interests of the man who held it.
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