Mar 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Eric Swalwell sues Trump and allies for violating civil rights with Jan. 6 incitement

Eric Swalwell

Photo: Joshua Roberts-Pool/Getty Images

A Democratic congressman filed a lawsuit against former President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) on Thursday alleging that they and others are "responsible for the injury and destruction" of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: The federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who served as one of the House's impeachment managers, adds to the mounting legal exposure Trump has found himself facing since leaving office.

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) was the first lawmaker to sue Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot, accusing the former president in a suit brought by the NAACP of violating the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act by trying to prevent Congress from carrying out its official duties.
  • Trump is also under criminal investigation by the Fulton County district attorney in Georgia for his efforts to pressure officials to overturn the results of the election, in addition to the ongoing legal scrutiny he faces in New York for his business dealings.

Details: The lawsuit — filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., by the law firm KaiserDillon PLLC — accuses Trump and his allies of conspiring to violate the civil rights of the plaintiff.

  • "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, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol, " the complaint alleges.
  • Swalwell alleges that the defendants, "by force, intimidation, or threat, agreed and conspired with one another to undertake a course of action to prevent" Joe Biden from being certified as the election winner and holding office.
  • Trump and Brooks are being sued in their "personal capacity." The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and a requirement that the defendants provide written notice seven days in advance of a rally or public event hosted on an election day.

Between the lines: The lawsuit is being brought under the 1985 revisions to the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, as well as stated causes of action.

Read the full suit.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the lawsuit accuses Trump and his allies of conspiring to violate the civil rights of the plaintiffs.

Go deeper