Rep. Bernie Thompson (D-MS) claims that the President and his former attorney, Rudy Giuliani, intentionally encouraged protesters to storm the U.S. Capitol.
The NAACP and a Democratic legislator have filed a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, accusing the commander-in-chief of conspiring with extremist groups to block election certifications in January.
According to NBC News, the lawsuit was filed by Rep. Bernie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat.
Thompson’s suit is the first to accuse President Trump of playing a direct role in the January 6th riots in Washington, D.C.
Trump supporters—purportedly acting under the ex-president’s direction—stormed the national Capitol, vandalizing and looting congressional offices. Thompson and the NAACP say that the attack 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.”
The lawsuit names Trump as a defendant, alongside his former attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
Jason Miller, a Trump adviser, steadfastly maintained that the one-term president had not intended or wanted his supporters to attack the Capitol.
“President Trump did not plan, produce or organize the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse. President Trump did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6,” Miller said in a statement.
“Mayor Giuliani,” he added, “is not currently representing President Trump in any legal matters.”
NBC notes that the lawsuit effectively accuses Trump and Giuliani of coordinating with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, far-right, militant groups which backed Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud.
In their complaint, Thompson and the NAACP said President Trump, Giuliani, and different militias had a shared goal of “employing intimidation, harassment and threats” to stop the vote count from going through. The riot, they charge, was a “direct, intended, and foreseeable result.”
Notably, the lawsuit references the Civil Rights Act of 1871—better known as the so-called Ku Klux Klan Act.
The act permits plaintiffs to bring legal complaints against government officials who conspired, or are believed to have conspired, in propagating civil rights abuses.
The suit alleges that Trump and Giuliani—by repeatedly insisting, without evidence, that the election had been stolen—galvanized right-wing militias into taking action against the Capitol. When Trump supporters began gathering in Washington, D.C., on January 6th, the commander-in-chief issued a series of inflammatory statements. He, along with Giuliani, “began stoking the crowd’s anger and urging them to take action to forcibly seize control of the process for counting and approving the Electoral College ballots.”
Speaking in an interview, Thompson said he filed his lawsuit to prevent any future presidents or officials from attempting to replicate Trump’s interference.
“If the Trump administration’s philosophy of engagement like what happened on Jan. 6 becomes the standard, then every election you disagree with, you just go into the Capitol and tear it up,” he said.
“In America, we settle our differences at the ballot box,” Thompson added. “We don’t have coups. We don’t have riots. We don’t have anything like what occurred Jan. 6. We have to have some semblance of order if our government is to remain strong.”
Thompson’s suit also quotes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). While McConnell did not vote to impeach the former president, McConnell did opine that “there is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.”
Thompson implied that Trump’s actions and words were inherently un-American, and that his misconduct has no place in democracy.
“This is not America, this is not our democracy,” Thompson said. “We can’t let this kind of riotous activity go on in any form.”