Apr 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

10 more House Democrats join suit against Trump and Giuliani for Capitol riots

Photo of pro-Trump rioters crowded into the Capitol building

Photo: Brent Stirton via Getty Images

Ten more members of Congress have signed onto the NAACP's lawsuit against former President Trump and Rudy Giuliani for allegedly conspiring with extremists to incite the Capitol insurrection.

Why it matters: The lawmakers, who were in the House gallery when pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, said in the complaint they feared for their lives. The lawsuit was first filed by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and the NAACP in February.

The new signees are Democratic Reps. Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), Veronica Escobar (Texas), Hank Johnson (Ga.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Maxine Waters (Calif.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.).

What they're saying: The amended complaint now includes statements that attest to Congress members' experiences on Jan. 6, all of which expressed an unsettling sense of their own mortality during and after the events.

  • Anticipating that he might not emerge from the House Gallery alive, Cohen began to "contemplate whether he would want to be buried with his family in Memphis or at the Congressional Cemetery," according to the complaint.
    • He developed new difficulties with digestion after Jan. 6 and grew "jumpy" whenever there was a loud or unfamiliar noise in his home.
  • The events left Lee feeling that "she had narrowly escaped serious injury or death on that date, prompting her to finalize her plans for her estate," while Waters has increased the number of security personnel who travel with her, according to the complaint.
  • Escobar now suffers from "violent nightmares" and has had difficulty sleeping, the complaint said. She said she has spoken with mental health professionals "as a direct result of these events."

All feared that the events would become a coronavirus "super spreader." Jayapal and Watson Coleman, along with several other Congress members, tested positive one week later.

The big picture: The lawsuit accuses Trump and Giuliani of violating the Klu Klux Klan Act by conspiring to obstruct Congress members from their official duties.

  • The two launched a misinformation campaign, the complaint states, encouraging "force, intimidation and threats."
  • Authorities have connected at least 57 alleged rioters to extremist groups, CBS News reports.
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