On Tuesday, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Bennie Thompson filed a federal lawsuit accusing Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and far-right extremist groups the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers of illegally conspiring to incite the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. Mississippi Democratic Congressman Thompson was joined in the suit by the NAACP, and it is expected that other Democratic legislators will also join the efforts or file similar lawsuits of their own.
Thompson’s lawsuit argues that, by conspiring to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 election, the actions of the accused violate the Ku Klux Klan Act—a law enacted after the Civil War in 1871 that prohibited violent interference or other intimidation intended to prevent Congress from carrying out its constitutional duties. It lays out the countless times that Trump and Giuliani attempted to undermine the election results by fabricating entirely unfounded allegations of voter fraud and claiming that the election was “stolen”—which encouraged threats of violence of Trump’s supporters that contributed to the escalation of events on January 6.
“The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence,” argues the lawsuit. “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.”
Thompson’s lawsuit was filed mere days after the Senate voted to acquit Trump at the close of his second impeachment trial. It’s unsurprising that after a second failed attempt to hold the former president accountable for his actions and words through the impeachment process, traumatized lawmakers would attempt another route to make Trump answer for the harm he’s caused. The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for any plaintiffs who join it and were harmed by the assault on the Capitol—which means a conviction could also involve a financial judgment.
“January 6th was one of the most shameful days in our country’s history, and it was instigated by the President himself,” Thompson wrote in a statement about the lawsuit. “His gleeful support of violent white supremacists led to a breach of the Capitol that put my life, and that of my colleagues, in grave danger. It is by the slimmest of luck that the outcome was not deadlier. While the majority of Republicans in the Senate abdicated their responsibility to hold the President accountable, we must hold him accountable for the insurrection that he so blatantly planned.”
In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Trump spokesman Jason Miller said: “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.”
Look at that, a lie! Although Trump is so slimy that it’s historically been difficult to get allegations like these to stick, perhaps a lawsuit backed by the NAACP and multiple Democratic Congressional representatives will finally be enough to change that.