Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani ask judge to drop Capitol riot conspiracy case
Former President Donald Trump and his onetime personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Thursday asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit accusing them of conspiring to incite the deadly invasion of the U.S. Capitol. The lawsuit, brought by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and 10 other House Democrats, accuses the defendants of violating the federal Ku Klux Klan Act on Jan. 6 by fomenting a mob of Trump's supporters to stop Congress from confirming President Joe Biden's electoral victory. Separate motions to dismiss the suit on Thursday argued that Trump's and Giuliani's remarks at a pre-riot rally near the Capitol were protected under the First Amendment.
Trump at that event had heaped pressure on Republican lawmakers — as well as then-Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the joint session — to reject key states' electoral results. He called on his followers to march to the Capitol and told the crowd, "If you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore."
But Trump's lawyer Jesse Binnall noted at the top of his dismissal request that Trump had also told the audience to "peacefully and patriotically make [their voices] heard."
Democrats' claims "directly contravene the absolute immunity" conveyed by the Constitution on the then-president and "fail to plausibly plead any viable conspiracy theory" against Trump, Binnall said.
Giuliani during the rally had called for "trial by combat." But the former New York mayor's lawyer argued in his motion to dismiss Thompson's lawsuit that "no reasonable reader or listener would have perceived Giuliani's speech as an instruction to march to the Capitol, violently breach the perimeter and enter the Capitol building, and then violently terrorize Congress into not engaging in the Electoral Certification."
The Democrats' conspiracy claim "defies all plausibility and believability on its face," Giuliani's lawyer wrote.
The lawsuit also names as defendants the extremist groups the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and Warboys.
The Oath Keepers filed their own motion to dismiss the case Thursday morning, arguing that the Democratic lawmakers lack "standing," or the ability to sue based on the alleged injury they have received by the defendants.
A lawyer for Thompson did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on the court filings.
The mob on Jan. 6 broke through lines of police officers outside the Capitol, leading hundreds of rioters to flood into the building. They physically attacked law enforcement, broke windows, burst into congressional offices, vandalized the grounds and stole property.
The invasion forced a joint session of Congress to evacuate their chambers and hide for their safety, temporarily derailing the lawmakers' efforts to confirm Trump's loss to Biden.
Thompson's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington in February, accused Trump and Giuliani of launching a "concerted campaign to misinform their supporters and the public, encouraging and promoting intimidation and violence in furtherance of their common plan to promote the re-election of Defendant Trump, even after the states had certified election results decisively showing he lost the election."
That campaign, which included an effort to stop Congress from counting the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, was undertaken "for the purpose of seeking to prevent Plaintiff Thompson and other members of Congress from certifying that former Vice President Biden won the presidential election," Thompson's lawsuit said.
In April, 10 more House members signed on to the lawsuit. They are: Reps. Karen Bass, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, all of California; Steve Cohen, of Tennessee; Bonnie Watson Coleman, of New Jersey; Veronica Escobar, of Texas; Hank Johnson Jr., of Georgia; Marcy Kaptur, of Ohio; Jerry Nadler, of New York; and Pramila Jayapal, of Washington.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is telling associates he had no idea his Justice Department seized phone records of two top Democratic congressional critics of then-President Donald Trump. In the hours since The New York Times broke the news on Thursday that prosecutors subpoenaed Apple metadata from Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA), former Attorney General Sessions has privately told people that he wasn’t aware of, nor was he briefed on, the reported data seizures while he led the Trump DOJ. This week’s revelations were a surprise to him, according to a source familiar with the matter, and another person close to Sessions.
The FBI says that Brian Mock went to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 unsure of what he would face, but as he shared on social media just days later, he was prepared to fully commit to whatever came his way — even death. “I went to the Capitol not knowing what to expect but said goodbye to my 4 children, not sure if I was going to come home,” Mock wrote on Facebook on Jan. 8, according to federal documents charging Mock with multiple crimes. “I was at peace with that knowledge.” Mock, 43, is one of the latest people to be arrested for crimes related to the siege on the U.S. Capitol, according to a statement from the Justice Department.
The US justice department’s internal watchdog launched an investigation on Friday after revelations that former president Donald Trump’s administration secretly seized phone data from at least two House Democrats as part of an aggressive leaks inquiry related to the Russia investigation into Trump’s conduct.
Donald Trump called Joe Biden a “mental retard” during the 2020 election, a new book says, but was reluctant to attack him too strongly for fear the Democrats would replace him with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama. Biden went on to beat Trump by more than 7m in the popular vote and by 306-232 in the electoral college, a result Trump deemed a landslide when it was in his favor against Clinton in 2016.