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Trump Faces Legal Pressure Over Capitol Riot as More Democratic Lawmakers Join Lawsuit

The National Law Journal

April 7, 2021

Trump is now being sued by 11 members of Congress and two U.S. Capitol police officers over the Jan. 6 riot.

Ten more members of Congress are joining a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, alleging that he and others violated federal law in inciting the attack during the certification of the Electoral College count.

The lawmakers—all Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives—are adding their names to the lawsuit initially filed by Rep. Bennie Thompson in February. Lawyers with Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and the NAACP are representing the members in the suit, alleging Trump violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 in acting to block the certification of the election results.

Reps. Karen Bass, Steve Cohen, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Veronica Escobar, Hank Johnson, Marcy Kaptur, Barbara Lee, Jerry Nadler, Pramila Jayapal and Maxine Waters are the members seeking to add their names to the suit.

It’s the latest legal effort to try and hold Trump to account for the events of Jan. 6, after the Senate did not convict him during the former president’s second impeachment trial. Rep. Eric Swalwell has separately filed suit, also alleging a violation of the Klan Act alongside other charges. And last week, two U.S. Capitol police officers sued Trump personally for damages over injuries they suffered during the attack.

. . .

The amended complaint filed Wednesday details each members’ experience during the Jan. 6 riot, including how they hid from those invading the Capitol and the fears they experienced at the time. Jayapal developed COVID-19 soon after the breach of the building, which she attributed to hiding in a room with other members who refused to wear masks. Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, hid in a committee room and prepared a “go-bag” in case he needed to quickly evacuate, according to the complaint.

The complaint originally targeted Trump, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and the far-right groups the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Wednesday’s amended complaint also adds the group the Warboys as defendants, as well as Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio.

“We are pleased that such a distinguished group of representatives has joined this suit, which seeks to hold accountable the principal architects of the assault on the Capitol and on democracy that occurred on January 6,” Joe Sellers, a Cohen Milstein partner, said in a statement. “While the threat to the peaceful transfer of power was profound, this lawsuit provides a powerful means to redress the harm caused to these members of Congress, explore in more detail the dark forces that contributed to the insurrection we observed and demonstrate that our courts are available to protect against such lawlessness.”

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