Ten House Democrats Join Lawsuit Blaming Trump and Giuliani for Capitol Riot

Ten Democratic members of Congress have joined a lawsuit alleging former President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani incited the violent Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump and Giuliani “acted in concert” with the far-right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to provoke the insurrection, the lawmakers alleged in court papers on Wednesday. The lawsuit was filed by Representatives Karen Bass, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters 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, Jerrold Nadler of New York and Pramila Jayapal of Washington.

The 10 are joining a complaint originally filed in February by Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. That lawsuit was the first major civil action to emerge from the deadly protest by Trump supporters, as congressional Democrats sought to hold the president accountable for his role after he was acquitted at a Senate impeachment trial.

Trump and Giuliani prevented Congress from carrying out its official duties and violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, which was designed to combat political violence and intimidation targeted at government officials, according to the suit filed Wednesday.

View of Siege

With chilling detail, the complaint offers a blow-by-blow account of the siege from the perspective of members of Congress who were forced to flee or hide as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.

At one point during the riot, Cohen “began to contemplate whether he would want to be buried with his family in Memphis or at the Congress Cemetery,” the complaint said. Jayapal tested positive for Covid-19 after being forced to huddle for safety with members who were not wearing masks. And since the riot, Waters has had “increased worries about her safety” and increased the size of her security team, according to the lawsuit.

Legal experts say they have long expected a wave of private lawsuits targeting Trump and others over the violence at the Capitol. Representative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, filed his own lawsuit last month. Last week, two injured police officers sued the former president, accusing him of inciting the mob.

Such lawsuits have raised the possibility of a lengthy discovery process that could uncover new evidence of whether Trump or any of his emissaries had a role in provoking the siege.

But any suit against Trump will face a legal hurdle: He is likely to claim that his speech on Jan. 6 and his other claims about the election fell within his presidential duties, shielding him from litigation.

Representatives for Trump and Giuliani did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. After Thompson filed the initial suit, Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump, disputed its claims, saying Trump “did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol.”

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