Former President Donald Trump, his reelection campaign and far-right groups and operatives in his orbit are facing down yet another legal challenge over their culpability in the January 6 attack on the Capitol, this time from Capitol Police officers who say they were “violently assaulted” in the riot.
A complaint filed in D.C. district court by seven officers who responded to the attack alleges Trump and other defendants violated the civil rights statutes that prohibit the use of force and intimidation to obstruct the work of federal officials.
The lawsuit also includes counts of assault and battery on the officers, as well as a violation of a D.C. hate crimes statute that prohibits violence based on the “political affiliation of the victim.”
In addition to Trump, the lawsuit targets his ally Roger Stone; “Stop The Steal,” a group aimed at overturning the election; far-right groups that participated in the attack including the Proud Boys and the Oathkeepers; and individual members of those organizations.
Trump, the complaint alleges, “had the power to prevent or to aid in preventing” the attack by not spreading debunked election fraud claims and attempting to overturn the election, and by more forcefully instructing his supporters to stop storming the Capitol.
Forbes has reached out to a Trump spokesperson for comment.
“Plaintiffs were violently assaulted, spat on, tear-gassed, bear-sprayed, subjected to racial slurs and epithets, and put in fear for their lives. Plaintiffs’ injuries, which Defendants caused, persist to this day,” the complaint says, echoing testimony from officers at a January 6 select committee hearing last month about their harrowing Capitol riot experiences.
Trump has already come under a mountain of scrutiny for his alleged role in inciting the attack, in which hundreds of his supporters, emboldened by his election fraud claims, sought to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory by besieging the Capitol. In addition to being impeached by the House in January, the January 6 panel is now seeking a deep trove of records from the Trump White house as part of a comprehensive probe into the attack. Trump is also being sued by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) over the attack.
The lawsuit brought by the seven officers is similar to one brought against Trump by the NAACP and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who dropped himself as a plaintiff after he was appointed chair of the House’s Jan. 6 select committee. That lawsuit, which also alleges Trump violated civil rights law, is being carried on by the NAACP and 10 other House Democrats.
What To Watch For
Trump is likely to claim, as he has done in the case of the January 6 panel’s document request and Swalwell’s lawsuit, that he was acting in his official capacity when he attempted to overturn the election and is thus protected from litigation by executive privilege. The Justice Department declined to defend Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) in a January 6 lawsuit despite a similar claim that he was acting in his official capacity when he allegedly incited the rioters.