There’s no such thing as ‘absolute immunity’ for former presidents

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Last Monday, Donald J. Trump’s lawyers asked a federal court to dismiss three civil lawsuits against the former president brought by California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell, a group of other House Democrats and Capitol police officers

Each suit seeks monetary damages for Trump’s role in fomenting the armed invasion of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, including the barrage of falsehoods that Trump churned out about a “stolen election.” The complaints also point to Trump’s call to “fight like hell” at the Save America rally that day.    

If the plaintiffs win these lawsuits, Trump is at risk of being ordered to pay millions of dollars to the individual victims of the Jan. 6 rampage. Large punitive damage awards can achieve at least partial justice, as they did last November when the organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., were ordered to…

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