Attorneys for President Donald Trump are asking a federal appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit which accuses the commander-in-chief of encouraging his supporters to thrash protesters at a campaign-trail rally in Kentucky.
The New York Times recounted the story – originally published by the Courier-Journal – on Tuesday. Reports and legal filings indicate that the president’s lawyers are requesting the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a ruling allowing the litigation to proceed.
Despite the president’s own protests, U.S. District Court Judge David J. Hale seemed skeptical of the chief executive’s argument. Hale opined that a bevy of evidence supports allegations that several members of a Louisville crowd were roughed up at then-Candidate Trump’s suggestion.
Two women and a man, according to the Times, were shoved and punched by Trump supporters at his command.
The televised and recorded rally shows Donald Trump firing up the crowd, pointing at protesters, and yelling “get ‘em outta here!”
Judge Hale didn’t buy attorneys’ argument that the president is protected from the suit on First Amendment grounds.
“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ‘em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” the judge wrote in a March ruling. “It was an order, an instruction, a command.”
Now, lawyers are pointing to another utterance by Trump at the same rally.
“Don’t hurt ‘em,” he said, speaking to audience members closest to the protesters. “If I say ‘go get ‘em,’ I get in trouble with the press.”
“Any contrary rule would destroy the practical ability of political campaigns to express their own messages at campaign rallies without being sabotaged by hostile protesters,” wrote Trump’s attorneys in the filing.
One of the president’s attorneys working on the appeal, Michael Carvin, wrote that allowing the lawsuit to proceed would also “inflict irreparable harm” on Donald Trump and distract him from his duties.
The Times quotes Carvin as saying the suit would subject Trump to a “costly, exhaustive and time-consuming discovery battle where Plaintiffs are actively seeking to depose and embarrass the sitting President, based on legal claims that are clearly meritless.”
Carvin’s argument isn’t entirely without merit, considering some of the demands protesters have asked Donald Trump to meet, including a Kentucky deposition. The plaintiffs are also asking that the president’s tax returns be provided to their counsel, as well as the names of “medical providers from whom Trump has sought or received any psychological” treatment.
Attorneys for the president say the requests are inappropriate and intrusive.
The suit isn’t the only one personally targeting the president.
Litigation filed by EPIC, which would force Trump to release his tax returns, is still snaking its way through the judicial system. EPIC is being opposed both by the president and the IRS. The group was, as of June, fighting against the agency by pursuing a ‘consent’ clause contained within the Freedom of Information Act.