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Accused of inciting the Capitol riot, Brooks offers weak defense

Accused of helping incite the Capitol riot, Alabama's Mo Brooks says he's a federal official, and is therefore immune to Eric Swalwell's civil suit.

Soon after Joe Biden was named the president-elect last fall, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) became one of Donald Trump's most aggressive allies. The far-right Alabaman not only spent weeks insisting the election had been stolen, reality be damned, Brooks also vowed to spearhead the effort in Congress to contest the results.

With this in mind, six months ago yesterday, the Republican congressman appeared at a radical rally near the White House, did his part to rouse a pro-Trump mob, told the audience it was time to start "kicking ass," and asked those in attendance what they were prepared to sacrifice for the good of their country.

After Brooks, Trump, and their allies rallied the right-wing crowd, the mob launched an insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, with rioters hoping to derail the certification of an American election.

Several lawsuits followed, including a civil suit filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calf.), whose case named a variety of defendants, including the Alabama Republican. By some accounts, Brooks avoided being served with the paperwork for a while, but last month, the materials finally reached the controversial congressman.

Yesterday, as the Washington Post reported, the public was able to see his first legal defense in the form a court filing.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) has asked to be dismissed from a federal lawsuit alleging that he incited the Jan. 6 mob assault on the U.S. Capitol, claiming that he can't be held liable because he was acting as a federal employee while challenging the 2020 election results in a fiery speech just before the riot began.... In his filing Friday, Brooks invoked a 1988 law that protects federal employees from personal liability while acting within the scope of their office or employment.

In other words, as far as the Alabama congressman is concerned, lying to an agitated mob, and allegedly helping incite a riot, was part of his official duties as a federal official.

By this reasoning, Brooks could've said and done effectively anything at the event, just so long as he could plausibly say he was there in his official capacity as an elected lawmaker.

In the same filing, Brooks insisted that he only appeared at the rally because the White House asked him to, before adding that he believes Donald Trump secretly won the 2020 race. (The Alabaman specifically pointed to "overwhelming" evidence that no one has seen.)

As the Post's report added, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta yesterday directed the Justice Department and Swalwell to respond to Brooks' claims. Watch this space.