Swalwell Sues Trump For 'Emotional Distress'

Swalwell Sues Trump For 'Emotional Distress'

Mona Salama
Mona Salama
March 5, 2021

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) has sued former President Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani and a fellow colleague Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) in their personal capacity by trying to use the justice system in claiming their roles has inflicted "severe emotional distress" since Jan. 6.

The lawsuit was filed Friday by Swalwell, a former House impeachment manager who led the second impeachment arguments against Trump last month in the charges of inciting an insurrection of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. Swalwell who was in the Capitol for the joint congressional session to certify the Electoral College results.

Swalwell's suit echoes the case he used to unsuccessfully prosecute the former president during his second impeachment trial by accusing Trump, Trump Jr., Giuliani, and Brooks for encouraging the attack on the complex with the Save American Rally and speeches made ahead of the riot,  encouraging supporters weeks ahead of Jan.6 to coming to D.C and the former president remarks during his speech in the rally where he told those to march down to the Capitol.

"Trump directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed and then watched approvingly as the building was overrun," Swalwell's civil lawsuit filed in Washington, DC's federal District Court alleges. "The horrific events of January 6 were a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants' unlawful actions. As such, the Defendants are responsible for the injury and destruction that followed."

However, in Trump's own speech just before the Capitol riot, he said to supporters, "I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard." As one of the nine House impeachment manager, Swalwell and others continued to twist the former president's remark to use as their focal point in their case to impeach Trump to claim that his words incited the attack during last month's Senate impeachment trial.

Trump was acquitted in the second impeachment trial last month with the Senate vote falling short of the two-thirds needed to convict him. Only seven Republicans joined the 50 Democrats in finding the former president "guilty."

The California Democrats allege in the suit that Trump and his allies named broke Washington, DC, laws, including an anti-terrorism act, by claiming they aided and abetted the violent rioters and inflicted emotional distress towards him and other Congress members.

"The Defendants, in short, convinced the mob that something was occurring that — if actually true — might indeed justify violence, and then sent that mob to the Capitol with violence-laced calls for immediate action," the lawsuit alleges.

Swalwell's civil suit however charges Trump and his allies with several counts including conspiracy to violate civil rights, negligence, incitement to riot, disorderly conduct, terrorism, and inflicting serious emotional distress, all charges meant for a criminal case. In filing the suit, Swalwell is trying to relitigate in the court of public opinion, a case he lost in the impeachment trial and would face an uphill challenge where courts mostly view Trump's words being protected by the First Amendment.

A similar lawsuit against the former president was first filed last month by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) that alleges that Trump incited the assault in violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act, a Reconstruction-era statute prohibiting interference with Congress' constitutional duties.

Thompson suit filed just shortly after Trump was acquitted in his second Senate impeachment trial, alleges that "the carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence."

"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. Failure to do so will only invite this type of authoritarianism for the anti-democratic forces on the far right that are so intent on destroying our country," Thompson said in a statement.

The Mississippi Democrat added that he wouldn't have filed the suit if Trump had been convicted during his Senate trial.

"This is me, and hopefully others, having our day in court to address the atrocities of Jan. 6. I trust the better judgment of the courts because obviously Republican members of the Senate could not do what the evidence overwhelmingly presented."

Swalwell's suit differs from Thompson as he describes claims of "severe emotional distress" from the Capitol siege and focuses more narrowly on punishing 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,'" Swalwell said in a statement.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller responded to The Floridian request for comment regarding Swalwell's lawsuit, referencing reported allegations of Swalwell's interactions with a Chinese spy.

"Eric Swalwell is a low-life with no credibility who got caught 'dating' the Chinese spy Fang-Fang and makes disgusting bodily noises on national television. Now, after failing miserably with two impeachment hoaxes, 'Mr. Fang-Fang' is doing the bidding of his Chinese masters and attacking our greatest President with yet another witch hunt. It's a disgrace that a compromised Member of Congress like Swalwell still sits on the House Intelligence Committee," Miller told The Floridian.

Brooks also commented on "Communist-sympathizer Swalwell's scurrilous and malicious lawsuit," calling it "meritless ploy."

"I make no apologies whatsoever for fighting for accurate and honest elections," Brooks said. "In sum, I wear Communist-sympathizer Swalwell's scurrilous and malicious lawsuit like a badge of courage. Under no circumstances will Swalwell, or any other Socialist, stop me from fighting for America."

Mona Salama

Mona Salama

Mona Salama is a political reporter for The Floridian covering Congress, the White House and Congressional elections.

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