MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks is asking a federal judge to grant him immunity from a lawsuit accusing him of helping to incite violence at the U.S. Capitol, arguing he was performing his job duties when he spoke at a rally on Jan. 6.
In a Wednesday court filing, Brooks argued his speech was about the upcoming congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election results and thus related to his job as a congressman.
“Brooks’ Ellipse Speech quite clearly related to, and was in the context of, votes in Congress later on January 6, 2021 concerning whether Congress should accept or reject state electoral college vote submittals,” Brooks wrote. The court filing was a rebuttal to Department of Justice’s view that the event was a campaign event on behalf of then-President Donald Trump.
Brooks, now a candidate for U.S. Senate, has come under fire for telling the pro-Trump crowd, “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” Brooks has maintained his words were intended to fire up the crowd for the next election cycle and were not advocating violence.
The congressman, who wore a Fire Pelosi hat in part of the speech, wrote Wednesday that the speech wasn’t advocating for any political party or candidate.
Brooks is representing himself in a civil lawsuit filed by Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California that accuses Trump and Brooks of helping to incite the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Jan. 6 insurrection, an attempt to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s win, came after Trump held a rally in Washington where he urged his followers to “fight like hell.”
Brooks began the court filing with a series of statements about himself, including telling the court that he has been married for 45 years, never taken illegal drugs and doesn’t drink alcohol.
Brooks argued that he was acting within the scope of his office when he spoke at a rally Jan. 6 and thus was due the legal protections afforded federal employees and members of Congress who are facing civil lawsuits over their jobs.
The Justice Department earlier urged a judge to deny the congressman’s request for immunity as a federal employee. The Justice Department said the event was campaign-related and it would not certify that Brooks was acting in his official capacity.