Watch CBS News

GOP Congressman Mo Brooks asks court to grant him immunity from January 6 suit

Capitol police officer speaks out
Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn speaks on January 6 riot and potential investigations moving forward 05:13

Washington — Republican Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama is asking a federal court to grant him immunity from a lawsuit alleging he incited the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Brooks argued in a filing with the U.S. district court in the District of Columbia he was acting within the scope of his employment as a member of the House when he delivered a speech at a rally outside the White House on January 6. 

After his speech and remarks from former President Donald Trump, scores of the former president's supporters descended upon the Capitol and breached the building in an attempt to stop Congress from reaffirming President Biden's win. Five people died and hundreds of people, including law enforcement protecting the building and lawmakers inside, were injured.

The Alabama Republican told the court that as a member of Congress, he is subject to the Westfall Act, which shields federal employees from being sued for engaging in their official duties.

Brooks said his speech was "clearly in the context of House floor votes" during the counting of states' Electoral College votes and in part aimed to protect his relationship with the White House to "preserve and promote space and defense jobs" in his congressional district. Brooks said a White House employee asked him to speak at the rally, and he spoke to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows once about the event. 

"Cooperating, or not cooperating, with the White House affects a congressman's effectiveness," he argued. "Certainly rejecting the request of the White House to give a speech at the Ellipse could hurt a congressman's effectiveness."

Congressman Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California, sued Brooks, Mr. Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and lawyer Rudy Giuliani for their conduct January 6 and argued they conspired to incite the violence there in violence of federal law and District of Columbia statute.

The Justice Department last month declined a request from Brooks to represent him in Swalwell's suit, saying his appearance at the rally at the Ellipse was a campaign activity and inciting an attack on the Capitol falls outside the scope of his employment.

If the Justice Department would have determined Brooks was acting within the realm of his official duties as a member of Congress, the U.S. could have been substituted as a defendant. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.