Former President Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers conspired to violate the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, which prohibits any activities designed to stop Congress from carrying out its responsibilities, when they incited the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, a fresh suit in the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee alleged.
The insurrection was the result of a carefully orchestrated strategy by Trump, Giuliani and extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, all of whom shared a common objective of using intimidation, harassment and threats to halt the certification of the Electoral College, said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi.
"The Defendants each intended to prevent, and ultimately postponed, members of Congress from discharging their duty commanded from the United States Constitution to approve the consequences of the Electoral College so as to elect another President and Vice President of the USA," the lawsuit said. "Pursuing a goal directed by Defendants Trump and Giuliani as well as Defendant Proud Boys, Defendant Oath Keepers played a leadership role in the riotous audience and provided military-style help enough to conquer any Capitol Police resistance."
With the advantage of not needing to establish criminal allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, the civil lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Thompson in his private capacity from the NAACP and civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. The litigation is suing Trump in his personal capacity, alleging that he acted outside the scope of his office when inciting the rioters.
The lawsuit alleged violations of the Ku Klux Klan Act, that was passed in 1871 in reaction to KKK violence and intimidation preventing members of Congress in the South during Reconstruction from carrying out their constitutional duties. The statute was intended particularly to safeguard against conspiracies, lawyer Joe Sellers explained.
The litigation follows a long list of similar cases in recent decades where associations have used suits, and fiscal penalties, to expose the networks and financiers of hate groups. 1 example is a lawsuit that ultimately forced the 2001 closure of the Aryan Nation's Idaho compound.
Thompson quoted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly encouraging lawsuit against Trump:"We now have a criminal justice system in this nation. We've got civil litigation. And former presidents aren't immune from being answerable by one."
After witnessing Capitol police barricading the doors of the House chamber together with furniture, Thompson and fellow lawmakers donned gas masks and have been rushed in the Longworth House Office Building in which they sheltered with more than 200 other representatives, staffers and relatives.
"Jan. 6 has been among the most shameful days in our nation's history, and it had been instigated by the president himself," Thompson said. "His gleeful assistance of white supremacists led to a breach of this Capitol that put my entire life, which of my colleagues, in grave danger."