Washington, Feb 19 (AP) A federal judge on Friday rejected efforts by former President Donald Trump to toss out conspiracy lawsuits filed by lawmakers and two Capitol police officers, saying in his ruling that the former president’s words “plausibly” may have led to the January 6, 2021, insurrection.
US District Court Judge Amit Mehta said in his ruling that Trump’s words during a rally before the violent storming of the US Capitol were likely “words of incitement not protected by the First Amendment.”
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Trump told his supporters to “Fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He said, “(We’re) going to try to and give (weak Republicans) the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,” and then told the crowd to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Mehta said Trump’s speech could have directed people to break the law. But he dismissed similar charges made against his son Donald Trump Jr. and lawyer Rudy Giuliani, saying their speech was protected by the First Amendment.
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The lawsuits, filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby and initially by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., argued that Trump, Trump Jr., Giuliani and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama had made “false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the Defendant’s express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the US Capitol.”
Thompson later dropped out of the lawsuit when he was named to lead the Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection that sought to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. The NAACP continued the suit after Thompson dropped out.
The lawsuits spell out in detail how the Trumps, Giuliani and Brooks spread baseless claims of election fraud, both before and after the 2020 presidential election was declared, and charges that they helped to spin up the thousands of rioters before they stormed the Capitol.
Five people died as a result of the violence on January 6, including a US Capitol Police officer. (AP)
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