A Congressman who helped lead the second impeachment of Donald Trump filed a lawsuit alleging the former president incited a mob that took over the US Capitol and disrupted the certification of the 2020 election.
Representative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, filed the suit in federal court Friday. It's the latest sign of legal peril for Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 riot, even after he won acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial last month. Representative Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, filed a similar suit Feb. 16 claiming the riot was the culmination of a months-long campaign by the former president to discredit the election results.
Swalwell, who was one of the House impeachment managers, alleges Trump conspired with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama to incite the riot and violate the civil rights of the members of Congress who gathered to certify the election results. Giuliani and Brooks, both Republicans, appeared with Trump at the rally that preceded the Capitol assault and repeated election-fraud claims that have been discredited by courts across the country.
"Trump lied to his followers, telling them that the certification of Joe Biden's election was a 'coup' and that their country was being stolen from them," Swalwell said in the lawsuit. "Many participants in the attack have since revealed that they were acting on what they believed to be former President Trump's orders in service of their country."
'Another Witch Hunt'
Trump adviser Jason Miller, in an emailed statement, said Swalwell has "no credibility," and that "after failing miserably with two impeachment hoaxes," the lawmaker was "attacking our greatest President with yet another witch hunt." Last month, Miller also disputed Thompson's claim, saying Trump "did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol."
Brooks, in a statement, called the new lawsuit "frivolous" and said "I make no apologies whatsoever for fighting for accurate and honest elections." Giuliani didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Swalwell suit seeks unspecified damages and raises the prospect of a lengthy discovery process that could uncover new evidence of Trump's role in the riot, including private communications between him and Giuliani.
Legal experts expect a wave of private lawsuits in the coming weeks targeting Trump and others over the violence that erupted at the Capitol. But any suit against Trump will have to overcome a legal hurdle: The president is likely to claim that his speech on Jan. 6 fell within his presidential duties, shielding him from litigation.
The case is Swalwell v. Trump et al, 21-cv-00586, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).