Originally published September 18, 2023 2:00 pm PDT
In a significant ruling on Monday, a Pennsylvania judge decreed that former President Trump’s comments casting doubt on the 2020 election results, made during his term, fall under the purview of presidential immunity.
This decision came in response to a defamation lawsuit filed against Trump.
Judge Michael Erdos of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas explained that Trump’s remarks, which were issued via Twitter and during a Pennsylvania state Senate committee hearing in November 2020, are shielded by his then-presidential status.
Judge Erdos mentioned, “Other legal proceedings may examine the propriety of his statements and actions while he was the President and whether, as the plaintiffs in this and other cases contend, it was this conduct which served as the actual threat to our democracy. But this case is not the proper place to do so. Here, Trump is entitled to Presidential immunity,” per The Hill.
However, the lawsuit also presented claims regarding a letter the former President wrote to the House Jan 6 committee after he had left office.
Judge Erdos clarified that Trump does not have immunity in this case.
Erdos further explained his decision by highlighting the public nature of the statements made by Trump during his term, noting, “Here, then-President Trump’s Gettysburg remarks and his tweet were public. Moreover, the topic of these statements—claims from third parties and the President himself about irregularities in the Presidential election which on their face called into question the integrity of the election and whether now-President Joseph Biden had been duly elected—was undoubtedly a matter of great public concern.”
James Savage, a voting machine supervisor during the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, lodged the lawsuit. He consolidated two suits alleging that Trump, Rudy Giuliani, among others, made defamatory comments that led him to face grave consequences, including receiving death threats and enduring two heart attacks.
Furthermore, Trump awaits the outcome of the Justice Department’s investigation regarding the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and the aftermath of the 2020 election.
Several other civil suits questioning Trump’s claims about the election are still being processed in various courts, with Trump citing immunity as his defense.
In response to the ruling, Trump legal spokeswoman Alina Habba stated, “We are pleased with the Court’s decision to honor the long-standing principle of Presidential Immunity.”
She added, “Today, the Court made it clear that it is well within the President’s discretion to address the integrity of our election without fear of liability. We expect that the rest of Mr. Savage’s claims will similarly be disposed of as they are without merit.”