Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) reported Sunday that he’d finally been served with a lawsuit filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) back in March after weeks of taunting the Democrat about his team’s inability to track Brooks down and press the papers into his hands.
Swalwell’s suit in federal court accuses Brooks, along with former President Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani of inciting the January 6 riot and breaking laws in the process.
Brooks claimed on Twitter that not only had he been served with the papers, but that the process server allegedly criminally trespassed into his home and “accosted” his wife.
New video footage pulled from Brooks’ home security camera captures the heated moment.
In the one minute clip, provided to TPM by Brooks’ office, Brooks’ wife, Martha, can be seen pulling into the driveway then turning right into what seems to be a garage. Another car quickly drives up behind her, the process server hurrying out of the still-running car with the papers in one hand and a cellphone in the other.
He runs after Brooks’ car and dips out of sight of the camera for a moment.
About 14 seconds later, the process server reappears, backpedaling with his phone held up and appearing to film while Brooks hurries after him, wagging her finger and seeming to berate him. The two exchange words, indecipherable from the silent surveillance footage, and the server ducks back into his car. Brooks quickly jogs around the back of it, seemingly trying to get a glimpse of the car’s license plate. The car backs out and she walks out of the camera’s range.
Brooks’ team maintains that the footage is proof that the process server unlawfully entered the congressman’s home, something Swalwell’s team has adamantly denied.
“The video shows that there was no truth to Mo Brooks’ claim that the process server went into their house —as we have maintained all along,” Swalwell lawyer Phil Andonian told TPM. “The video also shows that the papers were validly served. If Brooks wants to challenge service in court, he is free to do so, and we’ll look forward to getting his motion and taking it up with the judge.”
“I have absolutely no doubt that it was an unpleasant experience for Mrs. Brooks, as I can imagine it would be for anybody,” he added in a Monday interview. “It’s not something we wanted to have happen.”
Rep. Brooks gleefully dodged the Swalwell team’s attempts to serve him for weeks, tagging the congressman in tweets teasing his location and mockingly asking why it was so hard for them to track him down.
Swalwell’s team said both in an interview and court filings that Brooks was particularly difficult to connect with because of heavy security measures at the Capitol — measures stemming from the insurrection Swalwell accuses Brooks of helping cause.
“This is a sitting congressman with some profile in a building and grounds completely locked down to the public because of his actions on January 6,” Andonian said. “And Congressman Swalwell is not allowed to just serve him personally because a party can’t serve the other party on the suit.” Swalwell is also suing in his personal capacity and not as a congressman, Andonian added, making that option more inappropriate.
Brooks’ spokesman Clay Mills told TPM that Brooks has filed a police report with the Huntsville police department. Andonian said Tuesday morning that he had not been contacted by any police, and neither had the process server to his knowledge.
In another unfortunate turn of the story, Brooks accidentally shared what appeared to be his Gmail password on Twitter while alleging criminal trespass and the accosting of his wife during service.
All of this lawsuit service drama is only preamble to the case itself, a part of the procedure that is oftentimes waived by the defendant.
“If Brooks had been as reasonable as Donald Trump and simply waived service, we wouldn’t be in this boat,” Andonian said, chuckling. Trump, Trump Jr. and Giuliani all waived service.
The dodging comes at a cost too, both in money and time, Andonian added. The plaintiff is saddled with all the costs of the defendant team’s attempts to serve him. And instead of getting the 60-day window to respond he would have had if he’d waived service, Brooks now only has 21. Andonian said he expects Brooks to ask the judge to dismiss the case, as the other three have.
Trump claimed “absolute immunity” from the charges, as he was President at the time. His case is particularly difficult, as it involves uncharted territory around presidential power and protections. Andonian said he expects that there might be some Supreme Court decisions that play into the case.
“It’s just a sideshow, I wish we weren’t having to deal with this,” Andonian sighed of the Brooks service drama. “It looks like Keystone Cop or whatever.”