Rep. Bennie Thompson
(John McDonnell/AP/Shutterstock)

Mississippi’s Bennie Thompson Sues Trump in Federal Civil Court for Insurrection

Even though he may have escaped a Senate impeachment conviction, former President Donald Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani are still facing the ramifications of their actions on Jan. 6th when they encouraged an angry mob to storm the Capitol.

In a civil lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday, Feb. 16, CNN reported that Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson has accused Trump and Giuliani of conspiring with the far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to incite the attempted insurrection.

According to reporter Jessica Schneider, Thompson — who is Democratic chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee — cites a post-Civil War law designed to combat violence and intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan. (The rarely used federal statute was originally passed as a means to reduce the risk of violence caused by the Ku Klux Klan and allows “civil actions to be brought against people who use ‘force, intimidation, or threat’ to prevent anyone from upholding the duties of their office.”)

If the case proceeds, Schneider reports that the suit “would mean the former President and others would be subject to discovery and depositions, potentially exposing details and evidence that weren’t released during the Senate impeachment trial.” 

In presenting the lawsuit, Thompson said that it wouldn’t just be Trump and Giuliani’s statements at The Ellipse on Jan. 6 that would form the basis of his case, but also the tweets the pair issued and the speeches they made in the months leading up to the attack.

“As part of this unified plan to prevent the counting of Electoral College votes, Defendants Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, through their leadership, acted in concert to spearhead the assault on the Capitol while the angry mob that Defendants Trump and Giuliani incited descended on the Capitol,” the lawsuit states. “The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence. It 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.”

“All I wanted to do was do my job, and the insurrection that occurred prevented me from doing that,” said Thompson as he discussed the suit with reporters.

He then added that the NAACP is backing the lawsuit and helping to represent Thompson with his case.

“I am privileged to partner with the NAACP to have my day in court so that the perpetrators of putting members of Congress at risk can be held accountable,” Thompson said

Thompson’s lawsuit is the first in what is expected to be a number of civil lawsuits that will emerge from the events of that day and is also perfectly aligned with sentiments expressed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as he defended his vote not to impeach Trump.

“We have a criminal justice system in this country,” McConnell said. “We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”

As the case entered the court system, the lawsuit was randomly assigned and ended up going to Judge Amit Mehta, an appointee of former President Barack Obama. According to CNN’s Schneider, “Mehta has handled various lawsuits related to Trump’s financial records. In 2019, he ruled that Trump financial firm Mazars USA had to turn over records to Congress. He also earlier denied a request from House Democrats, in the minority at the time, attempting to get Trump hotel records from the General Services Administration.”

 

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