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Former President Trump speaks during an October rally in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

A federal judge on Monday challenged former President Donald Trump's claims of "absolute immunity" from three lawsuits related to the U.S. Capitol riot, per Law360.

Why it matters: U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington, D.C., is for the first time considering Trump's defense that claims against him "directly contravene the absolute immunity conveyed on the President by the Constitution as a key principle of separation of powers."

  • Mehta expressed skepticism about Trump's immunity claims could be extended to telling supporters at a rally ahead of the insurrection to "fight like hell" ahead of the march, according to Law360.

Driving the news: Mehta was hearing oral arguments in relation to lawsuits brought by Democratic lawmakers and two U.S. Capitol police officers against Trump and other defendants, including Donald Trump Jr., the former president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).

  • "Is there anything a president could say while president of the United States that could subject him to civil suit?" Mehta asked Trump's defense attorney Jesse Binnall, according to the Washington Post.
  • "Is there anything a president could say or do campaigning as a candidate that would not receive immunity?"
  • Mehta also asked what he should do "about the fact the President didn't denounce the conduct immediately," questioning whether "from a plausibility standpoint," that this meant Trump "plausibly agreed with the conduct of the people inside the Capitol that day?," CNN reports.

What they're saying: Binnall told the judge that executive immunity "must be broad," Reuters notes.

The other side: Joseph Sellers, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, argued that Trump's speech was a campaign event, rather than an official act, per Reuters.

  • This meant that a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that presidents are immune from lawsuits over official actions during their presidency would not apply in this case, Sellers argued.

What's next: Mehta will rule in the case at a later date, yet to be specified.

Go deeper

Avenatti names Trump in $94M claim alleging harsh jail treatment

Lawyer Michael Avenatti outside federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., last July. Photo: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Michael Avenatti alleges in a new filing with the Federal Bureau of Prisons that he endured "brutal" jail conditions in "retaliation" for criticizing former President Trump and former Attorney General Bill Barr.

Why it matters: Avenatti, who gained notoriety as adult film actress Stormy Daniels' lawyer in lawsuits against former President Trump and was later convicted in a Nike extortion case, is seeking $94 million in damages, per Law & Crime. Barr told the New York Times Avenatti's claims were "ridiculous."

Hope King, author of Closer
1 min ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

First look: Senators propose bill to ban corporate PACs

Sens. Jon Ossoff and Mark Kelly. Photos: Chip Somodevilla (left), Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) will soon propose a bill prohibiting for-profit corporations from establishing and managing political action committees, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The introduction of "The Ban Corporate PACs Act" comes amid heightened scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding money in politics, including efforts to bar companies from influencing political campaigns and federal elections. It would likely face a court challenge and First Amendment concerns.