Congressman, NAACP sue Trump over election fight, deadly U.S. Capitol riot

Rep. Bennie Thompson filed a lawsuit Tuesday against former President Donald Trump and others over the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. (Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times)
Rep. Bennie Thompson filed a lawsuit Tuesday against former President Donald Trump and others over the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. (Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times)

NAACP filed lawsuit on behalf of Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson against Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani

WASHINGTON — The NAACP on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, claiming that they violated a 19th-century statute when they tried to prevent the certification of the election on Jan. 6.

The civil rights organization brought the suit on behalf of Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi. Other Democrats in Congress — including Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia and Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey — are expected to join as plaintiffs in the coming weeks, according to the NAACP.

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The lawsuit contends that Trump and Giuliani violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute that includes protections against violent conspiracies that interfered with Congress’s constitutional duties; the suit also names the Proud Boys, the far-right nationalist group, and the Oath Keepers militia group. The legal action accuses Trump, Giuliani and the two groups of conspiring to incite a violent riot at the Capitol, with the goal of preventing Congress from certifying the election.

Former President Barack Obama has breakfast with Rep. Bennie Thompson at Buck's Restaurant in Greenville, Mississippi.
Former President Barack Obama has breakfast with Rep. Bennie Thompson at Buck's Restaurant in Greenville, Mississippi.

Credit: Alex Brandon/AP

Credit: Alex Brandon/AP

Jason Miller, an adviser to Trump, noted in response to the lawsuit that the Senate had acquitted the former president of the article of impeachment on inciting an insurrection.

“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 Tuesday.

In the lawsuit, Thompson said he was forced to wear a gas mask and hide on the floor of the House gallery for three hours while hearing “threats of physical violence against any member who attempted to proceed to approve the Electoral College ballot count.”

Thompson is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington. The suit does not include a specific financial amount.

In an interview Monday, Thompson, 72, said he would not have brought the suit against Trump if the Senate had voted to convict him in last week’s impeachment trial.

“I feared for my life,” Thompson said. “Not a day passes that I don’t think about this incident. I was committed to seeing justice brought to this situation.”

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