Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and the NAACP sued former President Donald Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and the far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers Tuesday over their role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building, alleging they conspired to stop Congress from finalizing the presidential results by inciting the riot and that they violated the Ku Klux Klan Act.
The plaintiffs shared a “common goal” of stopping the election from being certified, Thompson alleges, and “acted in concert to incite and then carry out a riot at the Capitol” in pursuit of that goal.
In doing so, the suit alleges Trump and his allies violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, a Reconstruction-era statute that prohibits conspiring to “to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person from accepting or holding any office, trust, or place of confidence under the United States” or “discharging any duties thereof.”
The lawsuit alleges the attack was “the natural, foreseeable and intended consequence” of Trump and Giuliani’s extended campaign to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers acted illegally by being “directly involved in organizing and carrying out” the Jan. 6 attack, the lawsuit alleges.
Trump “endorsed rather than discouraged” his supporters’ violence and threats of violence, the lawsuit alleges, noting that many of his supporters who participated in the riot said they were “following orders” from the president and Giuliani.
The lawsuit targets Giuliani’s role in leading Trump’s post-election legal efforts in the run-up to Jan. 6, as well as his speech preceding the Capitol attack and a phone call to Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) directly after the riots in which he said Republicans should try to further delay the electoral results.
“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 defendants allege. “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.”
What To Watch For
More congressional Democrats are expected to join the litigation, the NAACP said Tuesday, including Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.).
Trump advisor Jason Miller told the New York Times in a statement Tuesday that Trump “did not plan, produce or organize the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse.” “President Trump did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6,” Miller said, noting the U.S. Senate acquitted Trump of incitement of insurrection Saturday. Giuliani has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Tuesday’s lawsuit comes after House Democrats and 10 Republicans impeached Trump for his role in inciting the insurrection on Jan. 6, which temporarily stopped Congress from counting the electoral votes as Trump supporters seized the Capitol building. House lawmakers have also launched other investigations into what transpired on Jan. 6, including plans to launch a 9/11-style commission centered on the attack. The decision to try to hold Trump liable in court for his actions leading up to the attack follows some Republicans’ suggestion that doing so would be a more appropriate path to pursue than convicting Trump in the Senate after leaving office would have been. In a statement announcing his decision to acquit Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said “impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice” and Trump could be held liable through litigation instead.
This is now Giuliani’s third lawsuit targeting his role in spreading claims about election fraud, following defamation lawsuits filed by voting companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic.
Tuesday’s lawsuit is now one of two Trump faces from the NAACP, which has also sued him for allegedly violating Black voters’ rights with his attempt to overturn the results. The former president faces a number of legal challenges against him now that he’s left office, including multiple defamation suits and investigations into the Trump Organization.
N.A.A.C.P. Sues Trump and Giuliani Over Election Fight and Jan. 6 Riot (New York Times)
Trump’s post-presidency will be cluttered with potentially serious legal battles (Washington Post)
Dominion Voting Sues Rudy Giuliani For $1.3 Billion Over Election Conspiracy (Forbes)