Last updated on February 16, 2021 11:42 am
A key US congressman and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed suit Tuesday against former President Donald Trump for allegedly instigating the fatal Jan. 6 Capitol assault.
The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP and civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll on behalf of the House of Representatives Homeland Security chairman Bennie Thompson, is the first such civil legal action taken after Trump was acquitted over the weekend at the conclusion of his second Senate impeachment trial.
In addition to Trump, it names his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and two far-right militant groups: the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.
The suit accuses the defendants of conspiring “to incite an assembled crowd to march upon and enter the Capitol of the United States for the common purpose of disrupting, by the use of force, intimidation and threat, the approval by Congress of the count of votes cast by members of the Electoral College as required by Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution.”
It specifically accuses them of violating an 1871 law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, which sought to crack down on conspiracies that sought to prevent members of Congress, through intimidation and violence, from carrying out their duties.
Last month’s assault was the first time in 200 years that the Capitol building had been occupied when Trump’s supporters, recently addressed by the former president at a nearby rally, amassed at the Capitol, forcing their way through police barricades, and smashing windows to storm the Capitol building.
Five people died, including a law enforcement officer, as members of Congress were commencing the final major constitutional step before US President Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Two other police officers took their lives in the aftermath.
Instead of counting Electoral College votes, lawmakers and former Vice President Mike Pence were whisked away to secure locations as the crowd occupied the Congress.
“January 6th was one of the most shameful days in our country’s history, and it was instigated by the President himself. His gleeful support of violent white supremacists led to a breach of the Capitol that put my life, and that of my colleagues, in grave danger,” Thompson said in a statement.
Just minutes before they marched to the Capitol, Trump told his supporters to “fight like hell” to “stop the steal,” a reference to his claims of widespread voter fraud in presidential election.
A Justice Department probe failed to turn up evidence to support the allegation, and Trump was repeatedly dealt legal defeats in court as he sought to challenge election results.
During Trump’s impeachment proceedings, his attorneys maintained that he did not direct his supporters to carry out the violence that happened that day.