Judge Orders Civil Lawsuit Against Trump For Jan. 6 To Begin Next Month

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Arguments in three civil cases that were brought against former President Donald Trump and others for their involvement in fomenting the brutal violence that enveloped the Capitol in January have been scheduled for next month. The plaintiffs behind these cases include members of Congress and Capitol Police officers — among those who suffered most directly from the attack on the Capitol were the scores of law enforcement personnel who were injured, sometimes severely, by the then-president’s rampaging supporters. The early January proceedings, which were scheduled by federal Judge Amit Mehta, will concern whether the cases should be dismissed or continue moving forward.

The specific date when the arguments are set to take place is January 10. Among the items that have been cited in the cases against Trump and others is the Ku Klux Klan Act, which was originally enacted in the 1870s and forbids the use of force or the threat of it to infringe upon the exercise of certain rights. Obviously, the connection of that prohibition to what unfolded at the Capitol in January seems pretty clear. The Washington Post notes that the law also contained provisions “to safeguard government officials carrying out their duties” — an even more direct connection to the events of January 6.

In this instance, CNN notes that “Mehta, who also oversees the Oath Keepers January 6 criminal conspiracy case, will begin to weigh major questions about Trump’s role in the insurrection, and whether the former President and other right-wing figureheads are protected from legal fallout.” A report recently emerged from POLITICO noting how there’s been consideration among members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot of whether Trump should be considered guilty of criminal obstruction of Congress, but so far, Trump does not appear to be the subject of any criminal investigations related to what happened at the Capitol. (The riot investigation panel’s inquiry is not a criminal investigation.)

In the meantime, though, it does appear as though Trump could be considered to have perpetrated a criminal act of obstructing Congress, and even if such weren’t to be conclusively determined in a court of law, it could inform the direction of future policymaking.

In remarks to fellow House members, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — the vice chair of the House’s riot investigation committee — presented the question of whether “Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly [sought] to obstruct or impede Congress’ official proceeding to count electoral votes” — a question using the exact language of an anti-obstruction law. Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that those behind the January 6 rally in D.C. that immediately preceded the attack on the Capitol, which includes Trump, are guilty of having “deliberately stoked the flames of fear and discontent and explicitly encouraged [attendees] to go to the Capitol and fight for one reason and one reason only: to make sure the certification of the election didn’t happen.” That sounds like exactly what Cheney was talking about, and it’s from a federal judge.