Trump, Giuliani served in civil lawsuit over January 6 insurrection

Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have been served in lawsuit that accuses them of inciting the January 6 MAGA riot using anti-KKK legislation

  • Former President Donald Trump and his ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani have been served in the civil rights lawsuit that holds them responsible for the insurrection
  • The Daily Beast reported Wednesday that attorneys for Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP delivered the lawsuit to the ex-president at Mar-a-Lago 
  • Thompson sued Trump last month under a Reconstruction-era law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act that was to prevent intimidation of lawmakers 

Former President Donald Trump and his ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani have been served in a civil rights lawsuit that alleges the former president conspired with Giuliani and members of far-right extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election. 

The Daily Beast reported Wednesday that attorneys for Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and the NAACP delivered the lawsuit to the former president at Mar-a-Lago. 

Giuliani’s lawyer, Joseph D. Sibley, accepted the papers on behalf of the former mayor of New York.


Former President Donald Trump (left) and Rudy Giuliani (right) have been served in a lawsuit that accuses them of inciting the insurrection to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election 

Rep. Bennie Thompson sued Trump, alleging he incited the insurrection. The lawsuit in Washington’s federal court alleges the former president conspired with Giuliani and members of far-right extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election 

The lawsuit is the first of what could be many trying to hold Trump legally responsible for the January 6 insurrection, where five people were killed in the immediate aftermath including a Capitol Police officer 

Thompson sued Trump in his personal capacity on February 16, three days after the Senate acquitted him on impeachment charges.  

The federal lawsuit accuses Trump of inciting the deadly insurrection at the Capitol and conspiring with his lawyer, Giuliani, and extremsit groups to try and prevent Congress from certifying the results of the presidential election he lost to now President Joe Biden.  

Thompson’s lawsuit is believed to be the first filed by a member of Congress. 

It seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

The case also names as defendants Giuliani and groups including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, extremist organizations that had members charged by the Justice Department with taking part in the siege.

Lawyers for Trump have denied that he incited the riot. 

The Beast reported that it’s unclear who Trump hired to defend him in this suit. 

The papers were signed by a ‘Ricky.’ 

Alan Dershowitz, who was part of Trump’s legal team during his first Senate impeachment trial, told the Beast that ‘nobody [on the Trump team] has reached out to me yet’ as far as working on the suit. 

He added he personally believes Trump’s rhetoric wasn’t responsible for the insurrection. 

Dershowitz said it was ‘protected by the First Amendment.’ 

‘I would hope that the ACLU would take on a case like this,’ the lawyer added.   

Sibley confirmed to the Daily Beast that he was representing Giuliani. 

WHAT DOES THE KU KLUX KLAN ACT SAY? 

‘If two or more persons in any State or Territory conspire to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person from accepting or holding any office, trust, or place of confidence under the United States, or from discharging any duties thereof; or to induce by like means any officer of the United States to leave any State, district, or place, where his duties as an officer are required to be performed, or to injure him in his person or property on account of his lawful discharge of the duties of his office, or while engaged in the lawful discharge thereof, or to injure his property so as to molest, interrupt, hinder, or impede him in the discharge of his official duties.’ 

‘I am representing Mayor Giuliani in the Thompson lawsuit, and I will also be representing him in the Smartmatic and Dominion cases,’ the Harvard Law School graduate said.    

The suit, filed in federal court in Washington under a Reconstruction-era law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act.  

The act was passed in response to KKK violence and prohibits violence or intimidation meant to prevent Congress or other federal officials from carrying out their constitutional duties. 

That acquittal is likely to open the door to fresh legal scrutiny over Trump’s actions before and during the siege.

Even some Republicans who voted to acquit Trump on Saturday acknowledged that the more proper venue to deal with Trump was in the courts, especially now that he has left the White House and lost certain legal protections that shielded him as president.

The suit traces the drawn-out effort by Trump and Giuliani to cast doubt on the election results even though courts across the country, and state election officials, repeatedly rejected their baseless allegations of fraud. 

Despite evidence to the contrary, the suit says, the men portrayed the election as stolen while 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.’

Presidents are historically afforded broad immunity from lawsuits for actions they take in their role as commander-in-chief. 

But the lawsuit was brought against Trump in his personal, not official, capacity and alleges that none of the behavior at issue had to do with his responsibilities as president.

‘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 Thompson’s behalf, said in an interview.

‘In this respect, because of his conduct, he is just like any other private citizen,’ Sellers said.

Though the impeachment case focused squarely on accusations of incitement, the lawsuit more broadly accuses Trump of conspiring to disrupt the constitutional activities of Congress – namely, the certification of election results establishing Biden as the rightful winner – through a monthslong effort to discredit the outcome and to lean on individual states and his own vice president to overturn the contest.

The case against Trump was brought under a provision of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.

‘Fortunately, this hasn’t been used very much,’ Sellers said. ‘But what we see here is so unprecedented that it’s really reminiscent of what gave rise to the enactment of this legislation right after the Civil War.’

The suit cites incendiary comments that Trump and Giuliani made in the weeks leading up to the riot and on the day of it that lawyers say were designed to mobilize supporters to work to overturn the election results and to prevent Congress’ certification process. 

That process was temporarily interrupted when Trump loyalists broke into the Capitol.

Trump told supporters at a rally preceding the riot to ‘fight like hell,’ but lawyers for the former president adamantly denied during the impeachment trial that he had incited the riot. 

They pointed to a remark during his speech in which he told the crowd to behave ‘peacefully’ that day. 

Defense lawyers are likely to revisit those assertions in the lawsuit. 

They may also argue, as was done during the impeachment case, that Trump’s speech was protected by the First Amendment. 

Trump is headed into a storm of legal trouble just weeks after leaving office. 

Beyond the Thompson lawsuit, Reuters reported earlier this month that criminal and civil investigations into Trump’s businesses are accelerating in New York.   

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted alongside a majority of Republicans for Trump’s acquittal, pointed out in a floor speech after Saturday’s vote that the ex-president could still be in legal jeopardy. 

‘President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office,’ McConnell said in Senate floor remarks.

‘He didn’t get away with anything, yet,’ he continued. ‘We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation and former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.’

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden was supportive of Americans using the judiciary, but wouldn’t weigh in on the lawsuit more than saying that.  

‘He certainly supports the rights of individuals, members of Congress and otherwise, to take steps through the judicial process, but I don’t think we have a further comment on that than that,’ Psaki said last month. 

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