Former President Donald Trump and his attorney this week asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) over their speeches on Jan. 6.
The lawsuit from Thompson and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) charges that Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s speeches incited a storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Trump and Giuliani, as well as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, “conspired to incite an assembled crowd to march upon and enter the Capitol of the United States for the common purpose of disrupting, by the use of force, intimidation, and threat, the approval by Congress of the count of votes cast by members of the Electoral College,” the suit states.
Giuliani, for instance, told the crowd at The Ellipse, about two miles from the Capitol, that he wanted to emphasize that “every single thing that has been outlined as the plan for today is perfectly legal.” Trump, meanwhile, told supporters that they should “peacefully and patriotically make [their voices] heard.”
The two were exercising their rights protected by the First Amendment, the motions say.
A lawyer for Giuliani described claims that the defendants conspired as “facially implausible” and that his reference to “trial by combat” was a “hyperbolic” reference to a future evidentiary contest regarding election fraud allegations.
“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. Nor would anyone perceive the ‘trial by combat’ reference as a call to arms to invade the Capitol,” the lawyer, Joseph Sibley IV, wrote.
Jesse Binnall, an attorney for Trump, argued that the claims against the former president “directly contravene the absolute immunity conveyed on the President by the Constitution as a key principle of separation of powers.”
“And even while assuming, as we must at this stage, that the averments in the Amended Complaint are true, they fail to plausibly plead any viable conspiracy theory against President Trump,” he added.
A similar argument was put forth this week by Trump’s representation in a separate case.
The plaintiffs will file a response to the motions before the judge, Obama nominee Amit Mehta, will decide whether to grant them.
“While we will respond in due course to these groundless motions it is apparent that these defendants, having fomented and participated in an insurrection to stop Congress from certifying a free and fair election, seek to avoid any and all legal responsibility for their extraordinary attack on our democracy. We will continue to press ahead with our case and hold them accountable for their attempts to subvert our constitution,” Joe Sellers, chair of the Civil Rights & Employment Practice Group at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Janette McCarthy Wallace, interim general counsel for the NAACP, told The Epoch Times via email.
A lawyer for the Oath Keepers also filed a motion to dismiss. The lawyer asserted that the allegations are speculative and lack sufficient facts.