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House impeachment boss is suing Trump and his supporters over the riot.

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House impeachment boss is suing Trump and his supporters over the riot.

 

Rep. Eric Swalwell, who was a House manager during Donald Trump’s last impeachment trial, filed a complaint on Friday against the former president, his son, his lawyer, and a Republican congressman, alleging that their activities contributed to the insurgency in January.

The lawsuit, brought in federal court in Washington by a California Democrat, charges a plot to violate civil rights, as well as negligence, inciting a riot, and inducing emotional distress. It comes after Rep. Bennie Thompson filed a similar suit last month in an effort to keep the former president responsible in some way for his conduct after his Senate acquittal on Jan. 6.

Swalwell claims that Trump, his son Donald Jr., former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama made “false and incendiary accusations of fraud and theft,” and that “a violent mob stormed the United States Capitol in direct reaction to the Defendant’s express calls for violence at the rally.”

The complaint details how the Trumps, Giuliani, and Brooks spread false election fraud claims both before and after the 2020 presidential election was announced, as well as allegations that they helped to incite thousands of rioters to storm the Capitol. On Jan. 6, five people were killed in the violence, including a US Capitol Police officer.

Jason Miller, a spokesperson for Trump, branded Swalwell a “low-life” with “no legitimacy.”

Swalwell is threatening “our greatest President” with yet another witch hunt, Miller said in a tweet, after struggling miserably with two impeachment hoaxes. “It’s a shame that a tainted member of Congress like Swalwell continues to serve on the House Intelligence Committee.”

The lawsuit, according to Brooks, is frivolous and a “meritless ploy.”

He said he wore the lawsuit “like a badge of bravery” and made no apology for fighting for accurate and honest elections.

The lawsuit accuses Trump of inciting the riot, using many of the same playbook used by Swalwell and others during Trump’s impeachment trial — that his lies about election results led supporters to believe the 2020 election had been rigged, that he egged on the angry mob with his rally speech, and that he did nothing when confronted with the situation.

“According to those with experience, Trump was ‘delighted’ and ‘confused as to why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was’ at this moment of national horror.’ According to the lawsuit, “others characterized Trump as ‘borderline enthusiastic’ about the unfolding violence.”

Unlike Thompson’s case, which was brought against Trump, Giuliani, and other far-right militant organizations whose members are accused of participating in the insurgency, Swalwell’s did not clarify whether he was suing in his personal or official capacity, which would necessitate additional House approvals and involve House attorneys.

Both cases invoke a federal civil rights law passed in response to the Ku Klux Klan’s harassment of government officials. Swalwell’s lawyer, Philip Andonian, praised Thompson’s case, which was brought under the Ku Klux Klan Act during Reconstruction, and said they were 100% behind it, but saw the need for this one as well.

He explained, “We see ourselves as having a different perspective on this, keeping Trump responsible for the incitement, the misinformation.”

Presidents have long enjoyed strong legal protection for acts taken in their capacity as commander in chief. The case, like Thompson’s, was filed in Trump’s personal capacity, not in his official capacity.

Swalwell also mentions being locked in the House chamber with a large number of other members of Congress as plainclothes Capitol Police officers barricaded the doors and attempted to fend off the crowd at gunpoint.

“Fearful for their lives, the Plaintiff and others disguised themselves as members of Congress, contacted loved ones in case the worst happened, and sought refuge in the Capitol complex,” according to the complaint.

Brooks “conspired with the other Defendants to discredit the election results by charging, without proof, that the election was rigged and by manipulating elected officials, judges, and eventually Congress to reject the results,” according to the lawsuit. It reports that he spoke at a pro-Trump rally outside the White House at the Ellipse, shortly before thousands of pro-Trump rioters descended on the Capitol, overwhelming police officers and forcing their way inside.

Swalwell is seeking unspecified damages, as well as a court order that all defendants give him written notice a week before they intend to hold a rally in Washington that will attract more than 50 people.

In a tweet, Swalwell said, “Unable to consider defeat, Donald Trump waged an all-out war on a peaceful transfer of power.” “He repeatedly lied to his supporters, saying the election was stolen from them, filing a mountain of baseless lawsuits — almost all of which were dismissed — attempting to bully election officials, and eventually calling on his supporters to descend on Washington, D.C. to’stop the steal.’”

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