The NAACP, the prominent civil rights organisation, has filed a federal lawsuit against Donald Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and two white supremacist groups over their role in the deadly January 6 siege on the US Capitol.
The lawsuit underscores how the former president’s legal woes are far from over, even after he was acquitted at the weekend of inciting an insurrection following a five-day Senate impeachment trial.
Trump is already facing a criminal probe in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the result of the presidential election there, as well as a wide-ranging investigation in Manhattan into the finances of the Trump Organization.
The attorney-general in the District of Columbia has not ruled out charging Trump for his role in the January 6 riots.
Filed on Tuesday morning in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, the NAACP lawsuit alleges that Trump, Giuliani, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers violated a 19th-century statute when they interrupted the formal certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.
The 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act was passed in response to “KKK violence and intimidation preventing members of Congress in the South during Reconstruction from carrying out their constitutional duties”, the NAACP said.
The NAACP jointly filed the case with civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll on behalf of Bennie Thompson, a Democratic congressman from Mississippi. The NAACP said Hank Johnson, a Democratic congressman from Georgia, and Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Democratic congresswoman from New Jersey, intended to join the lawsuit as plaintiffs.
“January 6 was one of the most shameful days in our country’s history, and it was instigated by the president himself,” Thompson said. “His gleeful support of violent white supremacists led to a breach of the Capitol that put my life, and that of my colleagues, in grave danger.”
“While the majority of Republicans in the Senate abdicated their responsibility to hold the president accountable, we must hold him accountable for the insurrection that he so blatantly planned,” he added.
Trump was acquitted at the conclusion of his Senate trial on Saturday, after only seven Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in the upper chamber of Congress in finding the former president guilty of inciting an insurrection. Under the US constitution, two-thirds of the 100-member Senate would have had to have found him guilty in order for him to be convicted.
Trump has largely stayed out of the public eye since he snubbed Biden’s inauguration last month. He has not ruled out running for president again in 2024, and a Morning Consult/Politico poll published on Tuesday showed 59 per cent of Republican voters said he should play a “major role” in the party’s future.
In response to the NAACP lawsuit, Trump adviser Jason Miller said the former president had been “acquitted in the Democrats’ latest impeachment witch hunt,” adding: “The facts are irrefutable”.
“President Trump did not plan, produce or organise the January 6 rally on the Ellipse. President Trump did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on January 6,” he added.