The Justice Department rejected a request by Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks for legal protection in court against a lawsuit linking him to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Brooks, former President Donald Trump and others were sued by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., earlier this year. Swalwell alleges that Brooks and others named in the lawsuit helped incite a mob of Trump supporters on Jan. 6 during a pro-Trump rally.
The group later charged the U.S. Capitol building. Five people died that day.
The Justice Department says Brooks was engaged in campaign activity when he participated in the rally. That is not within the scope of his duties as a member of Congress, so he doesn’t qualify for legal immunity for his actions, the department said.
“The Department has declined to issue a certification because it cannot conclude that Brooks was acting within the scope of his office or employment as a Member of Congress at the time of the incident out of which the claims in this case arose,” the Justice Department explained in a court filing.
Lawmakers can, at times, receive legal protection as an “employee of the government.” That is allowed when their actions are considered to be done within the scope of their duties.
In this case, the federal government’s ruling seems to open the door for more people to be held accountable for the insurrection that day.
Brooks still has an opportunity to convince a federal judge, who has the final decision.