Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the House prosecutors during Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, filed a lawsuit Friday against the former president, alleging he incited the deadly invasion of the U.S. Capitol.
The civil lawsuit from Swalwell, D-Calif., also accuses Donald Trump Jr., Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., of being “wholly responsible for the injury and destruction” caused by the mob.
Swalwell’s 65-page lawsuit accuses the defendants of conspiring to block President Joe Biden’s election victory, inciting the Jan. 6 riot, aiding and abetting common-law assault, committing bias-related crimes, intentionally inflicting emotional distress and negligence.
The congressman demands a trial by jury in U.S. District Court in Washington.
The Senate last month acquitted Trump of one article of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol, which resulted in five deaths and forced a joint session of Congress into hiding.
Before the pro-Trump mob stormed the building, Trump held a rally outside the White House, where he repeated a slew of unfounded election-theft conspiracy claims and heaped pressure on Republicans to reject Biden’s victory. Trump Jr., Giuliani and Brooks also spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally.
House managers, led by Jamie Raskin, D-Md., argued that Trump directly fomented the violence exhibited by his supporters. They failed to persuade two-thirds of the Senate, which is split between Republicans and Democrats, to vote to convict the former president.
Asked for comment on the lawsuit, Trump spokesman Jason Miller replied with a string of insults about Swalwell and accused him of “attacking our greatest President with yet another witch hunt.”
Giuliani did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the suit. Swalwell’s legal complaint repeatedly points out that Giuliani declared, “Let’s have trial by combat!” in his speech to the pre-riot rally crowd on Jan. 6.
The lawsuit also cites comments made during that rally by Brooks. The Alabama congressman “told the crowd to start ‘kicking ass,‘” the court filing says, “and he spoke with reverence, at a purportedly peaceful demonstration, of how ‘our ancestors sacrificed their blood, sweat, their tears, their fortunes, and sometimes their lives,’ before shouting at the crowd ‘Are you willing to do the same?!’”
Swalwell’s lawsuit argues that Brooks “intended these words as a threat of violence or intimidation to block the certification vote from even occurring and/or to coerce members of Congress to disregard the results of the election.”
Brooks, in a statement to CNBC, said “I make no apologies whatsoever for fighting for accurate and honest elections.”
“In sum, I wear Communist-sympathizer Swalwell’s scurrilous and malicious lawsuit like a badge of courage,” Brooks’ statement said. “Under no circumstances will Swalwell, or any other Socialist, stop me from fighting for America.”
Swalwell’s legal action is the second lawsuit from a sitting member of Congress to blame Trump for inciting the deadly riot.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and the NAACP last month filed their own suit against Trump and Giuliani, accusing them of conspiring to stop Congress from confirming Biden’s win.
Both lawsuits cite sections of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, intended to protect against political violence and intimidation.
Thompson’s lawsuit also names as defendants the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two groups whose members are known to have been among the thousands who stormed the Capitol complex.
Swalwell’s lawsuit argues that the mob attacked the Capitol “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.”
The managers had made the same argument in Trump’s second impeachment trial, much of which centered around whether it was constitutional to convict a former president. Many Republicans focused on that procedural issue, rather than try to defend Trump’s conduct explicitly.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said after the trial that Trump is “still liable for everything he did while he was in office.”
“He didn’t get away with anything, yet,” said McConnell, who voted to acquit Trump.