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18 Apr 2017

Trump lawyers argues he's immune to lawsuits because he's president

US President Donald Trump was sued for allegedly inciting his supporters to violence when they allegedly assaulted anti-Trump protesters at an election rally during the 2016 campaign.

In a court filing on Friday, Trump's lawyers said he is "immune from suit because he is President of the United States."

However, experts believe the immunity argument posed by Trump's lawyers would be difficult to justify.

In context

Trump argues immunity from lawsuit

What happened?

Trump had egged crowd to get protesters out of rally

Three protesters - Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau - have accused Alvin Bamberger and Matthew Heimbach of assaulting them at a Trump rally in Kentucky in March 2016.

Trump was named in the lawsuit for allegedly inciting the two men to assault the protesters.

"Get them out of here," Trump had said from the stage to the crowd.

Trump had every right to remove protesters, argue lawyers

Trump's lawyers argue that he was addressing security, not the crowd. A federal judge ruled that it's possible that Trump had incited a riot, paving way for the lawsuit to move forward. Trump's lawyers claim Trump had every right to remove protesters from his rally.

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Clinton v. Jones?

Trump's lawyers argue Clinton v. Jones as precedent, experts puzzled

Trump's lawyers referred to the Clinton v. Jones in their immunity argument, which has left legal experts puzzled.

In the case, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that former President Bill Clinton could be sued as he allegedly sexually harassed former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, when he was the governor of Arkansas, not president.

This paved way for Clinton's famous impeachment.

No immunity for actions committed before becoming president


No immunity for actions committed before becoming president

University of Chicago Law School professor William Baude said for "things done before the President is president…there's no special immunity from suit."

He added the concept is "about preserving your ability to do your job; it doesn't apply before you had your job."

Trump's actions at the election came before he became president, raising doubts about the immunity defence.

More lawsuits?

Expert: Immunity is one of several defences for Trump lawyers

It's possible that lawyers would take a "belt and suspenders approach" in which they would "put down any defence that you think might be successful," said Alden Abbott, a legal scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Trump could potentially face more litigation while in office, including those from his decades-long business career.

Trump has settled several lawsuits out of court since winning the election.

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