‘The storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence’, says suit filed by Democrat
A Democratic congressman and a leading civil rights group are suing Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for allegedly inciting the deadly insurrection on the US Capitol on 6 January.
In a federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Bennie Thompson, a Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and the NAACP filed the suit in a federal court in Washington DC under a Reconstruction-era law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, according to the Associated Press.
The 1871 law was designed to protect officials from interference or violence when carrying out constitutional duties, and was cited in the lawsuit, which said Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani “carefully coordinated” a strategy to stop Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s election win on 6 January.
The lawsuit, which described Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani’s baseless claims that the election was “stolen” or “rigged”, said it was “no coincidence” that the former president’s supporters stormed the Capitol after attending a rally in Washington DC.
And despite evidence to the contrary, the suit says, the pair portrayed the election as stolen while Mr Trump “endorsed rather than discouraged” threats of violence from his angry supporters in the weeks leading up to the assault on the Capitol.
As well as targeting Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani, the suit also names two far-right organisations, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.
“The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence,” the suit says. “It was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully coordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College.”
Mr Trump, who was immune to legal action while president, was sued by Mr Thompson for conspiring and supporting the Capitol riot in his personal capacity, in what is expected to be the first of a number of civil cases brought against the former president for his role in the events of 6 January.
“You cannot move forward if you don’t address the illegality of what took place, the treasonous act,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson told The Hill.
“If you try to move forward without holding people accountable, you only set yourself up [for] future activity that could possibly be successful in toppling our democracy. For African Americans, we see a long history of people not being held accountable … and if we don’t hold people accountable, there becomes this entitlement that it’s OK to cause harm and violate the law.”
Joseph Sellers, a Washington lawyer who filed the lawsuit, told the AP: “Inciting a riot, or attempting to interfere with the congressional efforts to ratify the results of the election that are commended by the Constitution, could not conceivably be within the scope of ordinary responsibilities of the president.
“In this respect, because of his conduct, he is just like any other private citizen.”
Jason Miller, a spokesman for the former president, released a statement saying: “President Trump has been acquitted in the Democrats’ latest Impeachment Witch Hunt, and the facts are irrefutable.
“President Trump did not plan, produce or organize the Jan 6th rally on the Ellipse. President Trump did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan 6th. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser must answer questions as to why they rejected additional security and National Guard assistance in the run-up to Jan 6th.”
On Saturday Mr Trump was acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial that centred on allegations that he incited the riot, in which at least five people were killed — with seven Republicans supporting Democrats’ calls to convict.
While the 57 to 43 vote did not reach the 67-vote threshold to convict, the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said that despite his move to acquit he believed Mr Trump was “practically and morally” responsible for the attack on the Capitol.