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The Office of the General Counsel for the House of Representatives said in a filing on Tuesday that it will not represent Rep. Mo Brooks in a lawsuit filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell.
Swalwell alleged in his original complaint that Brooks helped “incite the violence at the Capitol” when he told Capitol protesters to “start taking down names and kicking ass.”
Brooks said in a filing that he was acting within the scope of his employment when he gave his speech on January 6, a move that if successful would grant him a
form of legal immunity via the Westfall Act.
General Counsel Douglas N. Letter wrote on Tuesday, however, that it would not be appropriate to represent Brooks in this lawsuit as the case does not challenge an “institutional action of the House or any of its component entities.”
The Department of Justice also denied Brooks’ claim on Tuesday that he was acting within the scope of his employment and requested that he not be granted immunity. The DOJ and House counsel’s filings are not binding and a judge could still say that Brooks was acting in the scope of his employment and receive immunity.
It took Swalwell several months to serve the original complaint against Brooks because Swalwell’s team could not locate the representative, though Brooks denied hiding from Swalwell.
Swalwell ultimately hired a private investigator to locate Brooks. The complaint was ultimately served to his wife at their home.
“Well, Swalwell FINALLY did his job, served complaint (on my WIFE). HORRIBLE Swalwell’s team committed a CRIME by unlawfully sneaking INTO MY HOUSE & accosting my wife!” Brooks said in a tweet.
There are precedents to this decision
House counsel pointed to a previous legal spat between former
House Minority Leader John Boehner and Rep. Jim McDermott
where both parties used private attorneys.
McDermott obtained and leaked an illegal recording of a call between Boehner and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to the press, leading to a lawsuit from Boehner. An appeals court ultimately awarded Boehner over $1 million in damages and said McDermott “unlawfully“obtained the recording in
violation of his official duties.
Additionally, according to
Ryan Goodman, the former special counsel to the general counsel of the Department of Defense, the DOJ filing also suggests that former President Donald Trump may also not be granted immunity via the Westfall Act.
The DOJ is currently defending Trump in a lawsuit from writer
E. Jean Carroll who alleges the former president raped her.
The General Counsel’s full filing is below