At a point in his life when Trump is facing more-- and more serious-- legal challenges than ever before, his long time crony, Rudy Giuliani, is no longer on his legal team. Trump dead-ender Jason Miller, who-- along with a babbling Trump-- wrote that psychotic anti-McConnell rant yesterday, told CNN that Giuliani is "not currently representing President Trump in any legal matters." CNN.com reminded its readers that "Trump had signaled frustration with Giuliani last month after he became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. He told his staff to stop paying Giuliani's legal fees."
Though Giuliani is among Trump's fiercest public defenders, his work on behalf of the former President has prompted legal problems of his own.
Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday accusing Giuliani and Trump of conspiring with the far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to incite the January 6 insurrection.
Giuliani, the lawsuit alleges, riled up the crowd as he told supporters: "Let's have trial by combat."
The NAACP brought the lawsuit on behalf of Bennie Thompson and, reported Annie Karni for the NY Times, on behalf of other members of Congress as well, including Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ). "The lawsuit contends that Trump and Giuliani violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute that includes protections against violent conspiracies that interfered with Congress’s constitutional duties; the suit also names the Proud Boys, the far-right nationalist group, and the Oath Keepers militia group. The legal action accuses Mr. Trump, Mr. Giuliani and the two groups of conspiring to incite a violent riot at the Capitol, with the goal of preventing Congress from certifying the election."
Last night I spoke with Ted Lieu, back from his stint as an impeachment manager. He mentioned that he "could not have agreed more with this conclusion by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: 'There's no question-- none-- that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it.' Inciting an insurrection carries with it grave consequences. The impeachment trial has now cemented Trump's dishonorable and destructive conduct in history. Plus civil and criminal cases can flow from such dangerous conduct. The facts in the civil and any criminal cases should be followed to their logical conclusion. Because in America, no one is above the law, including former presidents."
In the lawsuit, Mr. Thompson said he was forced to wear a gas mask and hide on the floor of the House gallery for three hours while hearing “threats of physical violence against any member who attempted to proceed to approve the Electoral College ballot count.” Mr. Thompson also heard a gunshot, according to the suit, which he did not learn until later had killed Ashli Babbitt, one of the rioters in the Capitol lobby.
Mr. Thompson is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in the lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Washington. The suit does not include a specific financial amount.
Mr. Thompson, 72, claims he was put at an increased health risk by later being required to shelter in place in a cramped area that did not allow for social distancing. The lawsuit notes that Mr. Thompson shared confined space with two members of Congress who tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after the attack at the Capitol.
In an interview on Monday, Mr. Thompson said he would not have brought the suit against Mr. Trump if the Senate had voted to convict him in last week’s impeachment trial.
“I feared for my life,” Mr. Thompson said. “Not a day passes that I don’t think about this incident. I was committed to seeing justice brought to this situation.”
He added: “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.”
...Derrick Johnson, president of the N.A.A.C.P., said the decision to seek compensatory and punitive damages was rooted in a history of tools that have worked to fight back against white supremacy.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against the Ku Klux Klan that bankrupted a chapter,” he said, referring to a 2008 judgment against a Kentucky-based Klan outfit that ordered the group to pay $2.5 million in damages. “This is very similar. If we do nothing, we can be ensured these groups will continue to spread and grow in their boldness. We must curb the spread of white supremacy.”
While much of the focus of the impeachment trial rested on how the violent mob was threatening former Vice President Mike Pence as well as congressional leaders like the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, N.A.A.C.P. officials said the attack was deeply rooted in racial injustice.
“Underlying this insurrection were the actions of folks who were challenging the voices of people of color,” said Janette McCarthy Louard, deputy general counsel of the N.A.A.C.P. “If you look at whose votes were being challenged, these came from largely urban areas. The votes of people of color were being challenged.”
The suit, for instance, charges Giuliani with attempting to reject “the votes cast by voters in Detroit, the population of which is 78 percent African-American.” It also says Giuliani inaccurately claimed there was fraud in voting in Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., “both of which have large African-American populations.”
Joseph M. Sellers, a partner at the civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, which jointly filed the case, said the lawsuit named Mr. Trump in his personal capacity because his conduct challenging another branch of government to do its job falls outside the official duties of the president.
“He was engaging in conduct that is so far outside any remotely legitimate scope of his presidential duties,” Mr. Sellers said. “He no longer has the immunity of the president.”
Florida Democrat Alan Grayson is one of the nation's top attorneys so I asked him what he thought about the suit. "I think that that’s a very reasonable approach," he told me. "The Southern Poverty Law Center has, in fact, demonstrated that it can work, on many occasions. Trump obviously will make a fool of himself as a defendant, just as Trump’s lawyers will. Watch for all the defendants, other than Trump, to declare bankruptcy."
The other wiseman I consulted about the suit is Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd, a congressional candidate for the seat Steny Hoyer holds and the youngest African America mayor in the country. He told me that he "strongly supports the NAACP's lawsuit against Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and the 'Proud Boys' over their attempts to prevent the certification of the election and over the related January 6th riot. The insurrection was not just fueled by passionate support for Donald Trump or raw partisanship. It was definitely also underpinned by racism reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan. Of course, that's what the attempts to invalidate the votes of people in places like Detroit and Milwaukee were fundamentally about. But, while this case is an important part of justice in this matter, I believe it is also very important that America ultimately also address another fundamental problem in our nation's democracy related to this series of unfortunate events: We must abolish the Electoral College, which allows someone who received 7 million less votes than his opponent to try to overturn the will of people by seeking alternate paths to 'victory,' including through undemocratic members of Congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kevin McCarthy, and Mitch McConnell."
When I woke up this morning I had gotten e-mails from congressional candidates McKayla Wilkes (MD) and Shervin Aazami (CA) on this subject overnight. Mckayla wrote that "Trump and his conspirators inspired white supremacists and far-right militants to commit insurrection against our democracy. The insurrectionists who attempted to subvert the election results wanted to disenfranchise millions of black voters. Due to Donald Trump’s rhetoric, white supremacy and violent militia have increased exponentially. He must be held accountable for his actions to prevent further attacks on democracy by future presidents."
Shervin noted that "Like millions of Americans, I was extremely disappointed by the U.S. Senate's failure to convict Donald Trump for inciting the insurrection on our Capitol on January 6. But we must rise far above that disappointment and respond with even stronger organizing, even stronger advocacy, and even stronger movement-building in our communities to root out white supremacy. I am pleased to hear about the N.A.A.C.P. lawsuit, and hope that more members join as plaintiffs, but the work of dismantling white nationalism extends far beyond holding Donald Trump accountable for the violent attack on the seat of our democracy. Trump weaponized white supremacy to entrench his power; we combat that by working in our own communities across the country to push structural reforms that end institutional racism and corporate welfare. Reforms like single-payer healthcare, guaranteeing housing for all, and rebuilding our economy with living wage jobs and 100% renewable energy are as much about ending racial inequities as they are about ending the stranglehold of corporate greed on our systems of government. Let's recommit to uplifting and empowering Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and other working people of color-- that is our strongest and surest path to abolishing white supremacy."