Trump asks judge to dismiss Capitol riot conspiracy lawsuit filed by House Democrats

Lawmakers sued Trump, Giuliani and militia groups involved in ‘concerted campaign’ inspiring violence

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 27 May 2021 20:04 BST
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Attorneys for Donald Trump have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a group of House Democrats accusing the former president of conspiring to inspire the assault on the US Capitol on 6 January.

The lawmakers accused Mr Trump, Rudy Giuliani and members of the Proud Boys and far-right militia groups of violating the Ku Klux Klan Act, a Reconstruction-era law prohibiting the use of “force, intimidation or threat” against “any citizen who is lawfully entitled to vote” in a presidential election, as a pro-Trump mob sought to forcefully overturn the results of the 2020 election while storming the halls of Congress.

Separate motions to dismiss the suit in US District Court on Thursday argued that Mr Trump’s speech to supporters near the Capitol – in which he said that “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore” – was protected by the First Amendment.

Democrats’ claims “directly contravene” the “absolute immunity” of then-president Trump, and “fail to plausibly plead any viable conspiracy theory” against him, attorney Jesse Binnall wrote in a motion to dismiss.

“Instead, they continue to repeat the same baseless and misleading allegations rejected by the Senate during the second failed impeachment attempt earlier this year,” Mr Binnall wrote.

The president was impeached by the House of Representatives, twice, in 2019 and in 2021. He was acquitted in the Senate both times.

Attorneys for the Oath Keepers militia also urged the judge to dismiss the suit, arguing that “there is no allegation that defendant Oath Keepers engaged in violence or entered the Capitol itself,” and that individual members of Congress, rather than a full body, did not have standing to pursue a case against them.

The lawsuit from US Rep Bennie Thompson and 10 other House lawmakers accuses Mr Trump and his allies of enjoining a “concerted campaign to misinform their supporters and the public, encouraging and promoting intimidation and violence in furtherance of their common plan to promote” his re-election, despite his definitive loss.

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