Adding to the list of lawsuits Donald Trump will be facing in the coming year or three, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) has filed a civil suit against the former president and his co-conspirators for inciting the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Washington on Friday, echoes arguments and the careful sequencing of events recounted in the House impeachment managers' case against Trump. Swalwell, who was one of those managers, will now try to expand upon the case through a potentially open-ended discovery process, as the New York Times notes, seeking evidence of the conspiracy to incite the Capitol siege that may have been inaccessible to the impeachment managers.
"Unable to accept defeat, Donald Trump waged an all out war on a peaceful transition of power," Swalwell said in a statement. "He lied to his followers again and again claiming the election was stolen from them, filed a mountain of frivolous lawsuits — nearly all of which failed — tried to intimidate election officials, and finally called upon his supporters to descend on Washington D.C. to 'stop the steal.'"
Swalwell is suing Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr., and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama on multiple counts including conspiracy to violate civil rights, negligence, incitement to riot, disorderly conduct, terrorism, and inflicting serious emotional distress. All four men participated in the rally near the White House that preceded the riot at the Capitol on January 6.
The lawsuit, like the impeachment case, uses Trump's own words to detail how he promoted lies about the voting process and the election even before Election Day, and then proceeded to foment rage among his supporters based on a flurry of falsehoods in a baldfaced effort to hold on to power. Then, on January 6, he put a match to bonfire.
"Those with knowledge claimed that during this moment of national horror, Trump was 'delighted' and was 'confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was,'" the lawsuit says. "Others described Trump as 'borderline enthusiastic' about the unfolding violence."
An attorney for Swalwell, Philip Andonian, tells the Associated Press, "We see ourselves as having a different angle to this, holding Trump accountable for the incitement, the disinformation."
The suit follows a similar one filed immediately after the Senate's second acquittal of Trump — thanks to amorality of the Republican Party and senators' fear of their own constituents voting them out — by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS).
As the AP notes, both lawsuits cite a Reconstruction-era law called the Ku Klux Klan Act, which was written both to protect freed slaves and politicians who were being threatened by extralegal mobs in the South. But where Thompson's suit connects Trump and the extremist groups who participated in the riot with racially motivated violence, Swalwell's suit more narrowly looks at the conspiracy by Trump's inner circle.
Also, Swalwell has left open whether or not he is suing in a personal capacity, or in his position as a House member, which would potentially involve House lawyers and House approval.
Trump's mounting legal troubles include investigations by prosecutors in both New York and Georgia — the former over his financial dealings and the latter over his alleged intimidation of election officials to overturn the 2020 result.
In a statement responding to the latest suit, Trump spokesmonkey Jason Miller calls Swalwell a "low-life" with "no credibility," and says the lawsuit is just "yet another witch hunt" against "America's greatest president." Marvelous work, Miller.
In addition to seeking unspecified damages, Swalwell's suit also asks that Trump and the other defendants provide him with a week's notice if they plan any future rallies in D.C. with more than 50 attendees expected.
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