The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, have sued former US President Donald Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and two right-wing extremist groups, alleging they conspired to incite the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, February 16, in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that Trump and Giuliani, in collaboration with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, conspired to incite the riot to keep Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.
It claims they did so in violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act, a Reconstruction-era statute designed to protect both formerly enslaved African Americans and lawmakers in Congress from white supremacist violence.
Reps. Hank Johnson and Bonnie Watson Coleman will join the litigation as plaintiffs in the coming days, according to a press release.
The lawsuit recounts Trump’s actions leading up to the Jan. 6 riot, building a case against him in similar fashion to House impeachment managers. It cites Trump's remarks during “Save America” rally as evidence that he mobilized and directed insurrectionists to storm the Capitol. After his supporters entered the halls of Congress, the lawsuit alleges, Giuliani called lawmakers individually, asking them to try to “slow down” the Electoral College vote count.
“If we don't put a check on the spread of domestic terrorism, it will consume this nation and transform it to something that none of us recognize,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in an interview. “We must, as a nation, prevent the spread of this type of boldness where [insurrectionists] will go to our U.S. Capitol and seek an act of treason.”
Johnson added that he sees the lawsuit as an aggressive push against domestic terrorism, which he said poses a direct threat to communities of color.
“You look at what took place in the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, those were acts of domestic terrorism against citizens. It was based on race,” Johnson continued. “They were acts of domestic terrorism, based on one's belief of who should be legitimate citizens and who are not.”
The lawsuit also quoted extensively from remarks Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made after the Senate voted to acquit Trump on Saturday, including his statement that "there is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day."
The suit asks a judge to rule that the actions of the defendants violated federal law and seeks unspecified monetary damages.
In response to the NAACP lawsuit, Trump adviser Jason Miller said the former president had been “acquitted in the Democrats’ latest impeachment witch hunt,” adding: “The facts are irrefutable”.
“President Trump did not plan, produce or organise the January 6 rally on the Ellipse. President Trump did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on January 6,” he added.
The suit comes days after Trump was acquitted of inciting the riot at his second impeachment trial by the Senate.