Representative Eric Swalwell Sues Trump Over Capitol Riot


Mr. Giuliani, who urged the same crowd to undertake “trial by combat,” and a lawyer for Donald Trump Jr. did not respond to requests for comment.

Both Mr. Thompson’s suit and Mr. Swalwell’s rely on civil rights law tracing to the 19th-century Ku Klux Klan Act, but their aims appear to differ. The earlier suit targets Mr. Trump’s association with right-wing extremist groups, naming several groups as defendants and explicitly detailing racialized hate it claims figured in the attack. Mr. Swalwell focuses more narrowly on punishing Mr. Trump and his inner circle for the alleged scheme.

“He lied to his followers again and again claiming the election was stolen from them, filed a mountain of frivolous lawsuits — nearly all of which failed, tried to intimidate election officials, and finally called upon his supporters to descend on Washington D.C. to ‘stop the steal,’” Mr. Swalwell said in a statement.

In the suit, Mr. Swalwell describes how he, the vice president and members of the House and Senate were put at direct risk and suffered “severe emotional distress” as armed marauders briefly overtook the Capitol in Mr. Trump’s name.

“The plaintiff prepared himself for possible hand-to-hand combat as he took off his jacket and tie and searched for makeshift instruments of self-defense,” it says.

During the Senate trial, Mr. Trump’s defense lawyers flatly denied that he was responsible for the assault and made broad assertions that he was protected by the First Amendment when he urged supporters gathered on Jan. 6 to “fight like hell” to “stop the steal” he said was underway at the Capitol.

The nine House managers argued that free speech rights had no place in a court of impeachment, but they may prove a more durable defense in a court of law. Though the suit targets them in their personal capacities, Mr. Trump may also try to dismiss the case by arguing that the statements he made around the rally were official, legally protected acts.

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