Democratic Congressman Files First Suit Against Trump Over Capitol Riot

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) filed the first of what is likely to many federal lawsuits against Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrectionist riot on Capitol Hill. The lawsuit also accuses Trump with conspiring with Rudy Giuliani and the extremist groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to try to prevent the Senate from certifying the Electoral College vote.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Thompson is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. The lawsuit, thought to be the first by a member of Congress, was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., under the Reconstruction-era law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act. It seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

“The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence,” the suit says. “It was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully coordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College.”

(Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The lawsuit filed Tuesday was brought against Trump in his personal, not official, capacity. It alleges that none of the behavior at issue had to do with his responsibilities as president. Presidents are historically afforded broad immunity from lawsuits for actions they take in their role as commander in chief.

“Inciting a riot, or attempting to interfere with the congressional efforts to ratify the results of the election that are commended by the Constitution, could not conceivably be within the scope of ordinary responsibilities of the president,” Joseph Sellers, a Washington lawyer who along with the NAACP filed the lawsuit on Thompson’s behalf, told the Associated Press in an interview.

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