A group of seven Capitol Police officers filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing President Trump and nearly 20 members of various (allegedly) "far-right" groups (including the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, of course) of being part of a plot to disrupt the peaceful transition of power on Jan 6, when the officers were injured during the unrest on Capitol Hill.
According to the NYT, this latest lawsuit is the "most expansive civil effort to date seeking to hold Mr. Trump and his allies legally accountable for the storming of the Capitol."
Three other similar lawsuits have been filed in recent months, including one filed by two Capitol Police officers back in March which accused President Trump of being directly responsible for unleashing his followers on the officers for a violent confrontation. But Thursday's lawsuit is the first to allege that Trump worked in concert with the "far-right extremists", something the FBI has already shot down, as we noted last week.
"This is probably the most comprehensive account of Jan. 6 in terms of civil cases," said Edward Caspar, a lawyer who is leading the suit for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "It spans from the former president to militants around him to his campaign supporters."
So far, the most public venue available for the Capitol Police officers who were injured on Jan. 6 has been a Congressional Hearing in July where several officers testified about their injuries.
According to the lawsuit, one of the officer-plaintiffs, Governor Latson, was trying to secure the Senate chamber when a mob of rioters broke in and shoved him, beat him and hurled racial slurs at him, the lawsuit says
Another, Jason DeRoche, was beaten after being surrounded on the west front steps where rioters pelted him with batteries and doused him with mace and bear spray, causing his eyes to swell shut.
The suit also accuses Trump and the co-defendants of violating the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute that includes protections against violent conspiracies that interfere with Congress’s constitutional duties. It also accuses the defendants of committing "bias-motivated acts of terrorism" in violation of District of Columbia law.
The lawsuit comes as the DoJ continues with its criminal investigation into those who participated in the attacks, hundreds of whom have been arrested after a review of photos and footage shared on social media, and by the news media.
Back in March, Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, a noted Trump antagonist, filed a similar complaint against the former president, while Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr. and Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, a Trump ally, have also been targeted.
In each lawsuit, President Trump has sought to have the suit dismissed by arguing that he was acting in his official capacity as president on Jan. 6 and therefore cannot face civil litigation.
The new lawsuit appears to largely rely on news reports and details gleaned from criminal cases filed by the DoJ, it takes a broad view of the origins of the attack. It argues that the conspiracy to disrupt the election started as early as May 2020, when President Trump began complaining on social media that mail-in voting could "lead to fraud" and continued by accusing Roger Stone of echoing "false" claims on "right wing" news outlets like InfoWars. Finally, it ties the conspiracy together by claiming Trump was explicitly commanding the Proud Boys to attack as far back as September 2020, when he said during the second presidential debate that the Proud Boys should "stand back and stand by" (even though he hadn't even lost the election, or contested anything, yet).
The surprisingly detailed lawsuit mentions other steps along the path to Jan. 6, including inlate November, when it claims a California-based political organizer named Alan Hostetter, who believed the election was stolen, posted a video on the internet claiming that people "at the highest levels" needed to be "made an example of with an execution or two or three." Several "Stop the Steal" activists are accused in the suit of deliberately "spreading lies" to provoke a riot.
As far whether the lawsuit will succeed, legal experts are skeptical given the broad protections afforded by Trump's office.
Interested parties can read the entire lawsuit below: