Source : Times of India
Donald Trump's acquittal at his second impeachment trial may not be the final word on whether he's to blame for the deadly Capitol riot. The next step for the former president could be the courts. Now a private citizen, Trump is stripped of his protection from legal liability that the presidency gave him. That change in status is something that even Republicans who voted on Saturday to acquit of inciting the January 6 attack are stressing as they urge Americans to move on from impeachment. “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said after that vote. He insisted that the courts were a more appropriate venue to hold Trump accountable than a Senate trial. He also faces legal exposure in Georgia over an alleged pressure campaign on state election officials, and in Manhattan over hush-money payments and business deals. But Trump's culpability under the law for inciting the riot is by no means clear-cut. The standard is high under court decisions reaching back 50 years. Trump could also be sued by victims, though he has some constitutional protections, including if he acted while carrying out the duties of president. Those cases would come down to his intent.The legal issue is whether Trump or any of the speakers at the rally near the White House that preceded the assault on the Capitol incited violence and whether they knew their words would have that effect. That's the standard the Supreme Court laid out in its 1969 decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio, which overturned the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader. Trump's impeachment lawyers said he didn't do anything illegal. Trump, in a statement after the acquittal, did not admit to any wrongdoing. Trump's top White House lawyer repeatedly warned Trump on January 6 that he could be held liable. Court cases that try to prove incitement often bump up against the First Amendment.The court found invalid parts of the law that encompassed speech tending to “encourage” or “promote” a riot, as well as speech “urging” others to riot or involving mere advocacy of violence.