Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a House impeachment manager during the proceedings against Donald Trump last month, has taken the case that the former President committed incitement to court.
Swalwell filed a lawsuit Friday in D.C. federal court alleging that Trump and several of his associates violated federal civil rights rights laws, as well as local D.C. incitement and anti-terrorism statutes, in how they egged on the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The other defendants in the case are Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.; Trump’s personal lawyer, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who is said to have helped plan the Jan. 6 pre-riot rally.
All three men joined then President Trump in speaking at the rally that preceded the ransacking of the Capitol as Congress was preparing to certify President Joe Biden’s victory.
“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 lawsuit alleged. “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 lawsuit is the latest example of attempts to use civil litigation to hold Trump and his inner circle accountable for their election reversal plots. He and his advisors may have criminal exposure as well, with at least two jurisdictions probing his post-election conduct.
In addition to the Swalwell lawsuit is one filed by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who alleged that Trump, Giuliani and two extremist groups involved in the mob violated the Ku Klux Klan Act. Prior to the Jan. 6 riot, the NAACP and other civil rights organizations sued Trump, his campaign, and the RNC for their alleged efforts to disenfranchise Black voters in the their attempts to reverse Trump’s defeat.
The Swalwell complaint follows in broad strokes the case he and his House colleagues attempted to make in the Senate in arguing that the former President should be disqualified for future office. It starts in the months before the election and continues with the claims of a “stolen election” that followed as soon as the votes were cast, culminating in the inflammatory remarks by Trump and his associates right before and during the Capitol riot.
“The Defendants violated the Anti-Terrorism Act on January 6,” the lawsuit, referring a local D.C. law, alleged. “They told the crowd — as they had been saying for weeks — that the presidency was literally being stolen from them, then suggested they ‘start taking names and kicking ass,’ that they engage in ‘trial by combat,’ and that they play by ‘very different rules’ before sending them to march on the Capitol.”
The lawsuit notes that when the Senate failed to convict Trump — only seven Republicans joined the 50 Senate Democrats in voting in favor of conviction, well short of the 67-vote threshold — several GOP senators including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the court system could address Trump’s actions.
“Another prominent Republican Senator, John Thune (R-SD), the Senate Republican whip, when asked how Trump should be held accountable, said ‘One way, obviously, would be in a court of law,'” the lawsuit said. “This suit follows.”
Read the lawsuit below: