February 16, 2021

The NAACP, on behalf of Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.), filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against former President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, accusing them of conspiring to incite the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The lawsuit also names two right-wing groups, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, as defendants. Some members of each group have been arrested in connection with the attack, which left five people, including one police officer, dead.

The lawsuit, filed in Washington alleges that Messrs. Trump and Giuliani and members of the two groups conspired to prevent Congress from fulfilling its official duties to certify election results—which they allege violates the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act. That law, which targeted unrest after the Civil War, allows suits seeking compensation for civil-rights violations.

Lawmakers were in the process of certifying President Biden’s electoral victories on Jan. 6 when the rioters swarmed the Capitol, halting the process for hours. Lawmakers and aides were rushed out of the House and Senate chambers, huddling in office buildings and, in some cases, hiding for hours until law enforcement was able to end the riot. Videos played during the impeachment trial showed the mob coming close to finding aides hiding in the Capitol.

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The NAACP said it is representing Mr. Thompson, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, because it believed the riot was part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump and his supporters to challenge votes cast by Black Americans. The suit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. Additional members of Congress are expected to join as plaintiffs, according to Mr. Thompson’s legal team, which also includes law firm Cohen Milstein.

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