Alameda County Congressman and House impeachment manager Eric Swalwell is suing Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, claiming they incited the January 6 Capitol riot in which five people died and 139 police officers were assaulted, and should be held liable for injuries and damages caused during the attack, the Washington Post reports.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, Friday, alleges that the defendants violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act by conspiring to violently interfere with Congress and that they are responsible for “a campaign of lies and incendiary rhetoric which led to the sacking of the United States Capitol.”
Swalwell, the chair of the House intelligence subcommittee, cited Trump’s pre-riot speech, in then-President Trump told a crowd of tens of thousands that he would join its march on Pennsylvania Avenue (he didn’t) and threatened that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” as a factor in inspiring at least 800 people to storm the Capitol Building.
“As a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants’ false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the Defendants’ express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol,” the suit alleges. “Many participants in the attack have since revealed that they were acting on what they believed to be former president Trump’s orders in service of their country.”
The suit further contends that Trump Jr., Giuliani, and Brooks all helped to enrage Trump supporters before the assault “by alleging without evidence that the election had been rigged,” and that their addresses to the mob—in which Rudy recommended “trial by combat”—“directly inspired the violence that followed.”
Although Trump was acquitted in his record-setting second impeachment trial, Swalwell is suing under a broader interpretation of negligence, focusing not on those who showed up already looking for trouble but on the “many more [who] were there for a political rally” before Trump and his gang allegedly “whipp[ed] them into a frenzy and turn[ed] them into a violent mob that participated in the attack.”
The complaint also preemptively counters Trump’s possible defense that he’s immune from liability for the bloodshed and destruction by noting that some of his allies have already put him on the spot.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell voted to acquit Trump but later said “no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible,” and now promises to back him in a 2024 reelection bid, while Republican whip John Thune said Trump could be made to answer for his words and actions “in a court of law.”
This is the second lawsuit filed against Trump and Giuliani in the wake of the riot. Last week, the NAACP sued the pair, along with leaders of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, on behalf of Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson. Giuliani has also been hit with a $1.3 billion defamation suit by Dominion Voting Systems for accusing the company of helping to rig the not-rigged election.
In a statement, Trump spokesman Jason Miller said, “Eric Swalwell is a low-life with no credibility,” referring to accusations that alleged Chinese spy Christine Fang had tried to win his favor until he cut ties with her in 2015 at the suggestion of intelligence officials.
In addition to punitive and compensatory damages and legal fees, the suit calls for the defendants to admit they violated the law and would require them to give seven days written notice before attending rallies or public events in Washington on days with any significance related to an election.