- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Democratic House lawmaker and the NAACP sued former President Trump and others in federal court on Tuesday, seeking money damages for putting the lawmaker in fear of his life during the riot by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, described the emotional distress he felt while cowering in the House chamber with a gas mask while rioters pounded on the doors.

When he was evacuated to what he thought was a more secure location beneath the Capitol, Mr. Thompson said, he ended up in a coronavirus “hot spot” with Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.

“I look forward to having my day in court … so that the perpetrators of putting members of Congress at risk can be held accountable,” Mr. Thompson said in an online press conference.

The complaint argues that Mr. Trump, his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers right-wing extremist groups violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, a Reconstruction-era statute designed to protect formerly enslaved African Americans and lawmakers from white supremacist violence.

”The insurrection was the result of a carefully orchestrated plan by Trump, Giuliani and extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, all of whom shared a common goal of employing intimidation, harassment and threats to stop the certification of the Electoral College,” the NAACP said. “They succeeded in their plan.”

The suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., comes two days after the Senate acquitted Mr. Trump in his second impeachment trial on a charge of inciting the riot. Mr. Trump‘s lawyers said the former president did not provoke the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and that he wanted his followers to demonstrate peacefully after he spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington. They argued that extremist groups pre-planned the attack on the Capitol.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Joseph Sellers said Mr. Thompson “suffered real harm” during the riot and that the lawsuit is not an attempt to relitigate the impeachment case.

“This suit is designed to hold those defendants accountable for conspiring to interfere with the members of Congress, and particularly Congressman Thompson‘s ability to discharge his duties overseeing the ratification of the results of the election,” Mr. Sellers said.

The lawsuit says Mr. Thompson “feared for his life and worried that he might never see his family again.”

It says the lawmaker “was hindered and impeded in the discharge of his official duties and suffered the deprivation of his right to be free from intimidation and threats in the discharge of his official duties, as explicitly protected under Ku Klux Klan Act.”

For its justification in suing a former president, the complaint relies in part on arguments made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, after he voted to acquit Mr. Trump in the trial Saturday.

“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run, still liable for everything he did while in office, didn’t get away with anything yet — yet,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.”

The lawsuit argues that Mr. Trump‘s persistent challenges to the Electoral College results were not protected by his status as a government official. They say his actions after states certified their results in December showed that Mr. Trump “acted beyond the outer perimeter of his official duties and therefore is susceptible to suit in his personal capacity.”

“Defendants Trump and Giuliani engaged in a concerted campaign to misinform their supporters and the public, encouraging and promoting intimidation and violence in furtherance of their common plan to promote the reelection of Defendant Trump, even after the states had certified election results decisively showing he lost the election, and to disrupt the legally required process before Congress to supervise the counting of the Electoral College ballots and certify the results of that count,” the lawsuit stated.

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