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House Homeland Security chairman sues Trump and Giuliani for allegedly inciting Capitol protest

President Donald J. Trump at the 450th mile of the new border wall, Jan. 12, 2021, near the Texas Mexico border. (Shealah Craighead/White House)
February 16, 2021

House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) sued former President Donald Trump, attorney Rudy Giuliani and two right-wing groups on Tuesday for allegedly inciting the Jan. 6 violent demonstration on Capitol Hill to disrupt Congress’ certification of Joe Biden as then-president-elect.

In a Washington, D.C. federal court, Thompson claimed the defendants violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, a law passed in 1871 following the Civil War that prohibits obstructing Congress’ constitutional obligations through violence and intimidation.

“The Defendants conspired to prevent, by force, intimidation and threats, the Plaintiff, as a Member of Congress, from discharging his official duties to approve the count of votes cast by members of the Electoral College following the presidential election held in November 2020,” the suit alleges.

According to Thompson, the Jan. 6 demonstration was prompted by Trump and “put my life, and that of my colleague, in grave danger.”

“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,” Thompson said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. “Failure to do so will only invite this type of authoritarianism for the anti-democratic forces on the far right that are so intent on destroying our country.”

The lawsuit comes days after Trump was acquitted on Saturday in his second impeachment trial in which he was charged with inciting the violent protest on Capitol Hill.

Thompson’s civil case named Trump solely in his personal capacity, Giuliani, Proud Boys International LLC and the Oath Keepers.

Leader of the Proud Boys Henry “Enrique” Tarrio called the lawsuit was frivolous.

“Was there Proud Boys that went in? Yes, and they’re idiots. They shouldn’t have gone in. But I’m going to support them because they are my brothers,” Tarrio told the Washington Post in a telephone interview. “But there was no plan to go into the Capitol. Unfortunately, one of my guys broke a window. Others trespassed. But there was no plan to even interrupt Congress.”

Thompson is being represented by the NAACP and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll. “Donald Trump has tried to destroy the nation, and we will not let him get away with it,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for the harm to Thompson and any other plaintiffs who join him, caused by the Defendants “use of intimidation, harassment and threats of violence” to interfere with Congress’ duties, in addition to punitive damages to “punish the defendants for the reckless and malicious manner in which they acted.”