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Ten Lawmakers Join Lawsuit Accusing Trump, Giuliani, Oath Keepers, and Proud Boys of Inciting Capitol Riot


Ten Democratic members of Congress on Wednesday joined a federal lawsuit accusing former President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and far-right groups the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in order to prevent certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

The lawsuit—originally filed by Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in February—contends that Trump and the others “conspired to incite an assembled crowd to march upon and enter the Capitol of the United States for the common purpose of disrupting” Congress’s counting of Electoral College votes.

The lone cause of action alleges a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, also known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, which is located at 42 U.S.C. § 1985.

The statute provides, in relevant part:

If two or more persons in any State or Territory conspire to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person from accepting or holding any office, trust, or place of confidence under the United States, or from discharging any duties thereof; or to induce by like means any officer of the United States to leave any State, district, or place, where his duties as an officer are required to be performed, or to injure him in his person or property on account of his lawful discharge of the duties of his office, or while engaged in the lawful discharge thereof, or to injure his property so as to molest, interrupt, hinder, or impede him in the discharge of his official duties.

Reps. Karen Bass of California, Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Veronica Escobar of Texas, Hank Johnson, Jr. of Georgia, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Barbara Lee of California, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and Maxine Waters of California all added their names to the amended complaint along with sections recounting what each went through that day as Trump supporters broke through police lines and stormed the Capitol Complex.

“Shortly after the proceedings began, Rep. Cohen heard loud shouts and aggressive banging on the doors from outside the Gallery,” the lawsuit stated under the newly added section for Cohen. “The officers within the room gave instructions to the members to retrieve, and be prepared to don, gas masks stored below their seats. As he heard these threatening noises grow louder and more insistent, Rep. Cohen became increasingly fearful that his personal safety was in jeopardy. Anticipating that he might not emerge from the House Gallery alive, he began to contemplate whether he would want to be buried with his family in Memphis or at the Congressional Cemetery.”

The amended complaint also added Warboys LLC to the lawsuit, as well as Enrique Tarrio, who is identified as the registered agent of Warboys LLC and the leader of the far-right Proud Boys.

“I am heartened to be joined by ten of my colleagues in this critical effort to hold former President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, the Oath Keepers, and Proud Boys to account for their respective roles in the January 6th attack on the Capitol,” Rep. Thompson said in a statement Wednesday. “We owe it to our families, the American public, and history to get to the truth about the conspiracy that fueled a violent mob to rampage the Capitol in an effort to stand in the way of the peaceful transfer of power.”

The lawmakers are seeking a declaratory judgment that Trump and the others violated the KKK Act, an injunction prohibiting them from taking similar action in the future, punitive damages, compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees.

Trump spokesperson Jason Miller previously denied claims that Trump had any role in inciting the Jan. 6 riots.

“President Trump has been acquitted in the Democrats’ latest Impeachment Witch Hunt, and the facts are irrefutable,” Miller said in a statement after the lawsuit was initially filed. “President Trump did not plan, produce or organize the Jan. 6th rally on the Ellipse. President Trump did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6th.”

Read the amended complaint below.

Bennie.thompson.amended.complaint by Law&Crime on Scribd

Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.

[image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.