A Democratic congressman has accused Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani of conspiring and inciting the deadly insurrection on the US Capitol on 6 January, in a federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday.
Bennie Thompson, a Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, filed the suit in a federal court in Washington DC under a Reconstruction-era law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, according to the Associated Press.
The law was designed to protect officials from interference or violence when carrying-out constitutional duties, and was cited in Tuesday’s lawsuit, which said Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani “carefully coordinated” a strategy to stop Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s election win on 6 January.
The lawsuit, which described Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani’s baseless claims that the election was “stolen” or “rigged”, said it was “no coincidence” that the former president’s supporters stormed the Capitol after attending a rally in Washington DC.
And despite evidence to the contrary, the suit says, the pair portrayed the election as stolen while Mr Trump “endorsed rather than discouraged” threats of violence from his angry supporters in the weeks leading up to the assault on the Capitol.
“The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence,” the suit says. “It was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully coordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College.”
Mr Trump, who was immune to legal action while president, was sued by Mr Thompson for conspiring and supporting the Capitol riot in his personal capacity, and is expected to be the first of a number of civil cases brought against the former president for his role in the events of 6 January.
“Inciting a riot, or attempting to interfere with the congressional efforts to ratify the results of the election that are commended by the Constitution, could not conceivably be within the scope of ordinary responsibilities of the president,” Joseph Sellers, a Washington lawyer who along with the NAACP filed the lawsuit on Mr Thompson’s behalf, said to the AP.
“In this respect, because of his conduct, he is just like any other private citizen,” the lawyer said.
It comes three days after Mr Trump was acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial that centred on allegations that he incited the riot, in which at least five people were killed — with seven Republicans supporting Democrats’ calls to convict.
Lawyers for Mr Trump — who denied that he incited the riot – did not immediately comment on the lawsuit on Tuesday, as did a lawyer for Mr Giuliani provide no immediate comment to the AP.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press.