Republican Brooks seeks immunity for Jan. 6 speech, says he was not campaigning
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) makes an announcement in Huntsville, Alabama, U.S. March 22, 2021. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Republican U.S. Representative Mo Brooks asked a federal judge on Wednesday to grant him immunity from a civil lawsuit alleging a speech he delivered to then-President Donald Trump’s supporters on Jan. 6 helped incite the attack on the Capitol.
In a series of court filings, Brooks addressed a decision by the Justice Department issued last week https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-justice-dept-wont-defend-republican-lawmaker-capitol-riot-lawsuit-2021-07-28, which determined it could not defend the Alabama congressman because he was not acting within his scope of employment as a member of Congress when he spoke at the rally.
Brooks is a co-defendant with Trump and several others in a lawsuit brought by Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell in the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia, before Judge Amit Mehta.
After the Jan. 6 rally, where Trump and others repeated the false claim that the election was marred by widespread fraud, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.
Brooks had previously asked the Justice Department to declare he was covered by the Westfall Act, which protects federal employees from being sued for actions taken as part of their jobs.
The department declined, saying his speech was a campaign activity not covered by the Westfall Act, adding that inciting an attack on Congress «is not within the scope of employment of a Representative — or any federal employee.»
Brooks, who is representing himself in the lawsuit, rejected those findings on Wednesday.
«Brooks was asked on Jan. 5, 2021 by a person who identified himself as a White House employee to give a speech,» he wrote about himself in the third person.
He added the event was not considered a campaign rally, he was not paid out of Trump’s campaign and was speaking to the crowd in part about his duties as a U.S. congressman to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.