Rep. Eric Swalwell filed a new lawsuit Friday in DC's federal District Court against Donald Trump and his closest allies for inspiring the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol that claimed five lives and injured more than 100 police officers. The second federal suit of its kind, it accuses Trump, Don Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and GOP Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama of violating federal civil rights and anti-terrorism laws by inciting the riot, aiding the rioters, and inflicting lasting emotional harms on members of Congress, according to CNN.
Last month, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi filed a lawsuit against Trump, Giuliani, and the right-wing extremist groups the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. Both lawsuits cite violations of a Reconstruction-era law designed to insulate Black Americans from intimidation by white supremacists.
Swalwell, who was in the House chamber on Jan. 6 and later served as an impeachment manager, charges that the defendants incited the Capitol attack through their repeated claims that the election was stolen, their urging of supporters to attend the rally, and their specific encouragement of rally attendees to march to the Capitol and commit violence.
"Trump directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed and then watched approvingly as the building was overrun," the lawsuit said. "The horrific events of January 6 were a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants' unlawful actions. As such, the Defendants are responsible for the injury and destruction that followed."
Trump told rally attendees they must "show strength" and "fight like hell" and then directed them to "walk down Pennsylvania Avenue," while falsely telling his supporters that he would march with them to the Capitol.
Brooks told rally goers, "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass."
Giuliani famously declared, "Let's have trial by combat!"—a reference to settling disputes through a personal battle between two opposing sides.
Naturally, Don Jr. offered rally goers the most dismal slogan of them all, but also literally threatened anyone who failed to act. "You can be a hero, or you can be a zero," he said at the rally. "If you're gonna be the zero, and not the hero, we're coming for you, and we're gonna have a good time doing it." Nice touch.
The lawsuit alleges, "The Defendants, in short, convinced the mob that something was occurring that—if actually true—might indeed justify violence, and then sent that mob to the Capitol with violence-laced calls for immediate action."
The defendants are all named in their personal capacities, forcing them to hire private attorneys and depriving them of hiding behind their public offices. As CNN notes, if either lawsuit proceeds, Trump and his allies would have to go through the discovery process and be subject to depositions—all of which could turn up fresh evidence about their personal involvement in the event.