Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) on Friday sued Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) for inciting the deadly insurrectionist riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The California Democrat’s suit is similar to one filed last month by Rep. Bennie Thompson against Trump, Giuliani and the far-right extremist groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, making the same claims that the defendants violated civil rights law intended to counter the Ku Klux Klan’s intimidation of elected officials. But Swalwell’s suit goes further, alleging that Trump, Trump Jr., Giuliani and Brooks broke Washington, D.C.’s anti-terrorism act by inciting the riot and that they aided and abetted violent rioters and inflicted emotional distress on the members of Congress.
“The Defendants, in short, convinced the mob that something was occurring that – if actually true – might indeed justify violence, and then sent that mob to the Capitol with violence-laced calls for immediate action,” the lawsuit, in Washington, D.C. federal District Court, alleges.
Swalwell, who was locked down in the House chamber during the siege, claims Trump, Trump Jr., Giuliani and Brooks prompted the attack on Congress with their repeated public assertions of voter fraud, their encouragement that supporters converge on the District on Jan. 6. It also cites each of their speeches that day. Each man had told the crowd that Joe Biden’s electoral certification in Congress could be blocked, and that Trump’s supporters should fight, the lawsuit alleges.
“Trump directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed and then watched approvingly as the building was overrun,” the lawsuit said. “The horrific events of January 6 were a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants’ unlawful actions. As such, the Defendants are responsible for the injury and destruction that followed.”
In Trump’s own speech just before the siege began, he told the crowd to “show strength” and “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.” Brooks declared, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” then asked the rally attendees if they were willing to fight. Giuliani told the rally crowd, “Let’s have trial by combat,” and the crowd responded with cheers.