Tag Archives: Capitol

Officer dead, driver fatally shot after ramming vehicle into barricade near the U.S. Capitol

A Capitol Police officer was killed Friday after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol and then emerged wielding a knife. It was the second line-of-duty death this year for a department still struggling to heal from the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Video shows the driver of the crashed car emerging with a knife in his hand and starting to run at the pair of officers, Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters. The driver stabbed one of the officers, Pittman said. Authorities shot the suspect, who died at a hospital.

Two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the suspect stabbed one of the officers. The officials spoke to AP were not authorized to publicly discuss the pending investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

“I just ask that the public continue to keep U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers,” Pittman said. “This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police after the events of Jan. 6 and now the events that have occurred here today.”

Police identified the slain officer as William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran who was a member of the department’s first responders unit.


Police identified the slain officer as William ‘Billy’ Evans, an 18-year veteran who was a member of the department’s first responders unit. (U.S. Capitol Police via AP)

Authorities said that there wasn’t an ongoing threat and that the attack did not appear to be related to terrorism, though the Capitol was put on lockdown as a precaution. There was also no immediate connection apparent between Friday’s crash and the Jan. 6 riot.

The crash and shooting happened at a security checkpoint near the Capitol typically used by senators and staff on weekdays, though most are away from the building during the current recess. The attack occurred about 100 yards (91 metres) from the entrance of the building on the Senate side of the Capitol. One witness, the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, said he was finishing a Good Friday service nearby when he suddenly heard three shots ring out.

It comes as the Washington region remains on edge nearly three months after a mob of armed insurrectionists loyal to former president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win.

Five people died in the Jan. 6 riot, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was among a badly outnumbered force trying to fight off insurrectionists seeking to overturn the election. Authorities installed a tall perimeter fence around the Capitol and for months restricted traffic along the roads closest to the building, but they had begun pulling back some of the emergency measures in recent weeks. Fencing that prevented vehicular traffic near that area was recently removed.

Law enforcement officials identified the slain suspect as 25-year-old Noah Green. Investigators were digging into the suspect’s background and examining whether he had a mental health history as they tried to discern a motive. They were working to obtain warrants to access his online accounts.


A car that crashed into a barrier on Capitol Hill is seen on Friday. (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press)

Pittman said the suspect did not appear to have been on the police’s radar. But the attack underscores that the building and campus — and the officers charged with protecting them — remain potential targets for violence.

Evans is the seventh Capitol Police member to die in the line of duty in the department’s history. Two officers, one from Capitol Police and another from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, died by suicide following the Jan. 6 attack.

Almost 140 Capitol Police officers were wounded then, including officers not issued helmets who sustained head injuries and one officer with cracked ribs, according to the officers’ union. It took hours for the National Guard to arrive, a delay that has driven months of finger-pointing between key decision-makers that day.

WATCH | ‘We will get through this,’ says Capitol police chief:

Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of the U.S. Capitol police, thanks the community for supporting them through an ‘extremely difficult and challenging year.’ 0:19

They were called upon soon afterward to secure the Capitol during Biden’s inauguration and faced another potential threat in early March linked to conspiracy theories falsely claiming Trump would retake the presidency.

“Today, once again, these heroes risked their lives to protect our Capitol and our Country, with the same extraordinary selflessness and spirit of service seen on January 6,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire House, we are profoundly grateful.”

The suspect had been taken to the hospital in critical condition. One of the officers who was injured was taken by police car to the hospital; the other was transported by emergency medical crews.


U.S. National Guard troops stand guard near the scene of the incident on Friday. (Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press)

The U.S. Capitol complex was placed on lockdown after the shooting and staff were told they could not enter or exit buildings. Video showed National Guard troops mobilizing near the area of the crash.

Video posted online showed a dark-coloured sedan crashed against a vehicle barrier and a police dog inspecting the vehicle. Law enforcement and paramedics could be seen caring for at least one unidentified individual.

U.S. President Joe Biden had just departed the White House for Camp David when the situation unfolded. As customary, he was traveling with a member of the National Security Council Staff who was expected to brief him.

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Man arrested in Capitol Hill attack was reportedly bodyguard for Trump confidant Roger Stone

Two men wanted in the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol were arrested over the weekend, including one who reportedly served as a bodyguard to former president Donald Trump’s longtime political confidant Roger Stone, federal authorities said Monday.

Roberto Minuta breached the Capitol grounds and “aggressively berated and taunted U.S. Capitol police officers” during the Jan. 6 insurrection, the FBI said in court papers.

Also arrested over the weekend was Isaac Steve Sturgeon, 32, of Dillon, Mont., who is charged with shoving a metal police barricade into police officers during the insurrection, according to court records.

Meanwhile, Jacob Chansley, the Phoenix man who sported face paint, no shirt and a furry hat with horns while inside the Capitol during the siege, will remain jailed until trial, a judge in Washington ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth explained that Chansley carried a spear into the Capitol, ignored orders from police to leave, used a bullhorn to encourage other rioters and was among the first rioters into the building.


Jacob Chansley is pictured inside the Senate chamber after the U.S. Capitol was breached Jan. 6, 2021. Chansley was denied bail after a judge ruled he was unlikely to follow release conditions. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Oath Keepers provided illegal ‘freelance security’: lawyer 

Chansley doesn’t fully appreciate the severity of the charges against him, Lamberth said. The judge said he has no faith that Chansley would follow release conditions.

At least five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died as a result of the violence at the Capitol, and two other officers took their own lives in the days after. More than 300 people have been charged with federal crimes.

Minuta, 36, of Hackettstown, N.J., had been “equipped with military-style attire and gear, including apparel emblazoned with a crest related to the Oath Keepers,” the FBI said, referring to the far-right antigovernment militia.

The New York Times identified Minuta as one of six people who provided security to Stone in the hours before the assault on the Capitol. Stone, who was pardoned after his sentence for several felony charges was initially commuted by Trump, was in Washington the day of the assault but has denied any involvement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Gianforti told a magistrate judge in White Plains federal court that Minuta was among Oath Keepers who illegally provided freelance security in Washington for “various high-profile individuals who I won’t name.”

Minuta, who was arrested at his tattoo shop in Newburgh, N.Y., told federal agents “something to the effect of: ‘Why am I being targeted here? Why aren’t you going after Antifa and Black Lives Matter members?”‘ Gianforti said.

The prosecutor said the statements suggest “a lack of remorse for his actions and an ongoing allegiance to the ideology that led him to break the law.”

He accused Minuta of “screaming at Capitol Police officers on Jan. 6 and indeed spitting at their feet, which is one of the most disrespectful gestures that one can do.”

Gianforti said Minuta had cancelled his phone account on March 1 and gotten rid of his iPhone while moving between a Texas dwelling and his New York business.


Insurrectionists loyal to Donald Trump try to open a door of the U.S. Capitol as they riot in Washington on Jan. 6. The charges against Minuta say he entered the Capitol forcefully. (Jose Luis Magana/The Associated Press)

Ben Gold, Minuta’s court-appointed attorney, said his client was not violent on Jan. 6. A magistrate judge agreed, letting him be freed on $ 150,000 US bail despite the prosecutor’s request he be held as a danger to the community and risk to flee.

“He’s not a flight risk. He’s not a danger to the community,” Gold said.

The lawyer said a criminal complaint describing the charges says Minuta entered the Capitol forcefully, but yet the description afterward “doesn’t say he used an ounce of force.”

Authorities said Sturgeon, the Montana man, was identified through police body camera video and photographs posted to social media.

The FBI said Sturgeon, who owns a lawn care business, traveled to Kenya on Jan. 24 and was deported from that country to New York. He was arrested Saturday at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Sturgeon told a federal magistrate Monday he “wasn’t trying to flee,” adding he’s a frequent traveller.

His defence attorney declined to comment on the charges.

Prosecutors said Sturgeon faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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Police intelligence finds possible plot to breach U.S. Capitol by ‘identified militia group’ on Thursday

Capitol Police say they have intelligence showing a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol this  Thursday, nearly two months after a mob of supporters of former U.S. president Donald Trump stormed the iconic building to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory.

The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4. That was the U.S.’s original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20.

The revelation was detailed in a statement from the Capitol Police. It comes at the same time the acting police chief is testifying before a House subcommittee.

“The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats toward members of Congress or toward the Capitol complex,” the agency said in a statement. “We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4.”

Police did not name the militia group in the statement on Wednesday.

The statement differs from an advisory that was sent to members of Congress by the acting House sergeant-at-arms this week, saying Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington, D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence.”


A scene from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

House rises for the week 

The House abruptly finished its work for the week Wednesday afternoon, moving up work that had been scheduled for Thursday. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer notified lawmakers late Wednesday of the sudden schedule change. An aide who was granted anonymity to discuss the matter said the decision was made due to the threats. 

Capitol Police say that they have stepped up security around the Capitol complex since January’s insurrection, adding physical security measures such as fencing topped with razor wire around the Capitol and members of the National Guard who remain at the complex.

The statement said the agency was “taking the intelligence seriously” but provided no other specific details on the threat.

Some consider March 4 ‘the real inauguration day’

News of the threat came as the Capitol police and other law enforcement agencies are taking heat from Congress in contentious hearings this week on their handling of the Jan. 6 riot. They were prepared for a protest and were badly under-prepared for the riot. It took hours for reinforcements to come and by then Trump supporters had roamed the halls of the U.S. Capitol for hours.

March 4 is considered by some to be the “real inauguration day,” though there has not been nearly the amount of online chatter that occurred before Jan. 6 from extremist groups.

So far, about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died.

Thousands of accounts that promoted the Jan. 6 event that led to a violent storming of the U.S. Capitol have since been suspended by major tech companies like Facebook and Twitter, making it far more difficult for QAnon and far-right groups to organize a repeat of the mass gathering on Thursday.

Twitter banned more than 70,000 accounts after the riots, while Facebook and Instagram removed posts mentioning “stop the steal,” a pro-Trump rallying cry used to mobilize his supporters in January.

The conservative social media platform Parler, which many of Trump’s supporters joined to promote false election fraud conspiracy theories and encourage friends to “storm” the Capitol on Jan. 6, was effectively booted off the internet for several weeks following the siege when Amazon suspended its web-hosting services, and Apple and Google removed it from their app stores. 

Since his defeat, Trump has been promoting lies that the election was stolen from him through mass voter fraud, even though such claims have been rejected by judges, Republican state officials and Trump’s own administration.

He was impeached by the House after the Jan. 6 riot on a charge of incitement of insurrection but was acquitted by the Senate.

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Police intelligence finds possible plot to breach U.S. Capitol by ‘identified militia group’ on Thursday

Capitol Police say they have intelligence showing a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol this  Thursday, nearly two months after a mob of supporters of former U.S. president Donald Trump stormed the iconic building to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory.

The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4. That was the U.S.’s original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20.

The revelation was detailed in a statement from the Capitol Police. It comes at the same time the acting police chief is testifying before a House subcommittee.

“The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” the agency said in a statement. “We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4.”

Police did not name the militia group in the statement on Wednesday.

The statement differs from an advisory that was sent to members of Congress by the acting House sergeant-at-arms this week, saying Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington, D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence.”


A scene from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

An advisory sent earlier this week to members of Congress by Timothy Blodgett, the acting House sergeant-at-arms, said that the Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence.”

But that advisory was updated in a note to lawmakers Wednesday morning. Blodgett wrote that the Capitol Police had received “new and concerning information and intelligence indicating additional interest in the Capitol for the dates of March 4th – 6th by a militia group.”

In her testimony to the House panel, acting Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman said her investigators had collected “some concerning intelligence,” but declined to provide any details publicly, saying it was “law enforcement sensitive” and that she would provide a private briefing for the subcommittee members.

Capitol Police say that they have stepped up security around the Capitol complex since January’s insurrection, adding physical security measures such as fencing topped with razor wire around the Capitol and members of the National Guard who remain at the complex.

The statement said the agency was “taking the intelligence seriously” but provided no other specific details on the threat.

Some consider March 4 ‘the real inauguration day’

The announcement comes as the Capitol police and other law enforcement agencies are taking heat from Congress in contentious hearings this week on their handling of the Jan. 6 riot. They were prepared for a protest and were badly under-prepared for the riot. It took hours for reinforcements to come and by then Trump supporters had roamed the halls of the U.S. Capitol for hours. March 4 is considered by some to be the “real inauguration day,” though there has not been nearly the amount of online chatter that occurred before Jan. 6 from extremist groups.

So far, about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died.

Thousands of accounts that promoted the Jan. 6 event that led to a violent storming of the U.S. Capitol have since been suspended by major tech companies like Facebook and Twitter, making it far more difficult for QAnon and far-right groups to organize a repeat of the mass gathering on Thursday.

Twitter banned more than 70,000 accounts after the riots, while Facebook and Instagram removed posts mentioning “stop the steal,” a pro-Trump rallying cry used to mobilize his supporters in January.

The conservative social media platform Parler, which many of Trump’s supporters joined to promote false election fraud conspiracy theories and encourage friends to “storm” the Capitol on Jan. 6, was booted off the internet following the siege.

Since his defeat, Trump has been promoting lies that the election was stolen from him through mass voter fraud, even though such claims have been rejected by judges, Republican state officials and Trump’s own administration.

He was impeached by the House after the Jan. 6 riot on a charge of incitement of insurrection but was acquitted by the Senate.

Lawmakers to be briefed Wednesday afternoon

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat from New York, said he was “very concerned” about potential threats Thursday and wasn’t sure whether the Capitol Police were adequately prepared to respond.

“I believe that there should be additional resources assigned to their efforts to sweep for explosives, for example,” he said. “And I don’t know to what degree that’s being done right now.”

Lawmakers were expected to be briefed later Wednesday by Capitol Police leadership in a closed session.

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No evidence Antifa or ‘fake’ Trump supporters spurred Capitol riot, FBI’s Wray testifies

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday sought to beat back right-wing conspiracy theories suggesting that fake supporters of former U.S. president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

It was Wray’s first testimony in Congress since the attack — a failed bid to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s November election victory — was carried out by supporters of Trump who, in a speech near the White House, exhorted them to march to the Capitol in protest.

“I was appalled that you, our country’s elected leaders, were victimized right here in these very halls,” Wray testified before the Senate’s judiciary committee.

“That siege was criminal behaviour, pure and simple. It’s behaviour that we, the FBI, view as domestic terrorism.”

Early on, Republicans on the panel sought to equate the Jan. 6 riot to the occasional violence that ensued in months of racial justice protests in dozens of U.S. cities last year.

The senior Republican on the panel, Chuck Grassley, made repeated references to Antifa and violence committed by those who might be described as being left on the political spectrum, including a fatal shooting incident in Portland last year and the near-fatal shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise in 2017 by a suspect who posted a photo of Bernie Sanders on his Facebook profile.

But Wray was unequivocal in terms of what the agency has learned so far about the events of Jan. 6.

“We have not to date seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to Antifa in connection with the 6th,” he said.

Last month in another Senate hearing, Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin brought up the possibility that “agent provocateurs” and “fake Trump protesters” had circulated among the crowd on Jan. 6, citing an article by a right-wing think-tank.

Wray said there had been no evidence presented yet of fake Trump protesters crashing the event, which appears to have been planned for weeks according to previous testimony, and he reiterated his assertion from 2020 hearings that white supremacists “have been responsible for the most lethal attacks over the last decade” in terms of domestic terrorism.

Hundreds charged so far

The U.S. Justice Department has charged more than 300 people on criminal counts ranging from conspiracy to attacking police and obstructing Congress.

Five people in attendance died that day, including a Trump supporter who was fatally shot and a Capitol police officer who was killed in circumstances that are still unclear. Three others suffered fatal medical episodes, according to reports.

At least 18 people associated with the far-right Proud Boys — which Canada labelled a terrorist group last month — have been charged and nine people tied to the anti-government militia known as the Oath Keepers are facing charges they conspired as far back as November to storm the Capitol to prevent Biden from becoming president.

Biden took office on Jan. 20.

Federal investigators including the FBI have come under scrutiny since Jan. 6 over why more was not done to protect the Capitol ahead of the attack.

On Jan. 5, the FBI’s Norfolk, Va., office distributed a raw, unverified intelligence report which warned that violent extremists intended to disrupt Congress.

Still unclear how Capitol Police officer was killed

Wray told lawmakers on Tuesday the intelligence was shared with other law enforcement agencies three different ways, but acknowledged he personally did not see the report until a few days later.

As to why other top law enforcement officials did not see it, Wray said: “I don’t have a good answer to that.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said to Wray: “What I don’t understand is why this … raw intelligence didn’t prompt a stronger warning and alarm.”

The FBI has yet to arrest any suspects in the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, or for pipe bombs that were discovered outside the headquarters of both the Republican and Democratic national committees.

The FBI has obtained a video that shows a suspect spraying bear spray on police officers, including Sicknick, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.

Citing an ongoing investigation, Wray said he couldn’t yet disclose a cause of death for Sicknick.

Democrats and some Republicans condemned Trump for his weeks of false claims leading up to Jan. 6, that the election was stolen. He repeated that claim in his first significant speech since leaving the presidency last week.

But Wray said he stood by comments made by former attorney general Bill Barr, who had infuriated Trump after the election when he said the Justice Department did not have evidence of any widespread election fraud.

“We are not aware of any widespread evidence of voter fraud, much less that would have affected the outcome of the presidential election,” Wray told lawmakers.

We are not aware of any widespread evidence of voter fraud, much less that would have affected the outcome of the presidential election,” Wray told lawmakers.

In a newly unsealed search warrant, investigators say rioters carried weapons inside the Capitol including tire irons, sledge hammers, stun guns, bear spray and, in at least one case, a handgun with an extended magazine.

“Everyone involved must take responsibility for their actions that day, including our former president,” said Grassley, who was among those who voted to acquit Trump on a count of incitement of insurrection in a Senate impeachment trial last month.

WATCH | Former FBI agent Jack Cloonan on the domestic terrorism threat:

Given the events of Jan. 6, the likelihood of someone attempting an attack around the presidential inauguration is ‘extremely high,’ says former FBI special agent Jack Cloonan. 7:46

Senate judiciary committee chair Dick Durbin, a Democrat, said the government has not done enough to protect against threats from far-right extremists and white supremacists, and accused the Trump administration of playing down those threats.

He said the Trump administration “never set up a task force to combat the numerous incidents” from the far-right, and instead focused on Black Lives Matter activists.

With respect to other issues, Wray said he was concerned about violent attacks against Asian Americans during the past year. But he stopped short of condemning  what he called “rhetoric” — offensive language used by Trump and other legislators regarding the pandemic that Democrats have characterized as pejorative or racist.

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Capitol police failed to properly lock down Congress Jan. 6: acting chief

Police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection did not properly lock down the building and were unsure of the rules for using deadly force against the rioters, according to the acting chief of the Capitol Police.

In a statement submitted for a House hearing Thursday, Yogananda Pittman provides new details about the law enforcement response to the Capitol riot and the problems that hobbled the police’s response. The statement fills in crucial new details as lawmakers begin investigating what went wrong the day of the attack.

Pittman emphasizes the heroism of officers during the “ugly battle” on Jan. 6 and states that Capitol Police had compiled an internal intelligence assessment ahead of the insurrection, when thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed Congress as lawmakers were certifying Joe Biden’s presidential win.

That assessment, she wrote, warned that militia members, white supremacists and members of other extremist groups were likely to participate, that demonstrators would be armed and that it was possible they would come to the Capitol to try to disrupt the vote.

“Based on the assessment, the Department understood that this demonstration would be unlike the previous demonstrations held by protesters with similar ideologies in November and December 2020,” Pittman states in her prepared remarks.


Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman pays respects to officer Brian Sicknick who died as a result of the Jan. 6 riot. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via The Associated Press)

Pittman to detail police department’s ‘internal challenges’ 

The department also took additional measures to beef up security because of the threat, including calling in additional officers and stepping up protection for key members of Congress.

Pittman details additional steps taken for Jan. 6 by the specialized dignitary protection unit, which protects congressional leaders. She said those agents had been assigned assault-style rifles for Jan. 6. The department also deployed “counter surveillance agents” to observe locations around Washington, including the Ellipse downtown where a rally supporting Trump was held.

Capitol Police had also intercepted radio frequencies being used by some of the more organized rioters who brought walkie-talkies to communicate with each other. Pittman says the police had been monitoring their communication.

But Pittman also says the department faced “internal challenges” as it responded to the riot. Officers didn’t properly lock down the Capitol complex, even after an order had been given over the radio to do so.

She also says officers didn’t understand when they were allowed to use deadly force, and that the less-than-lethal weapons that officers had were also not as successful as they believed they would be.

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Trump, Giuliani sued in federal court over role in Capitol riot

A Democratic congressman accused Donald Trump in a federal lawsuit on Tuesday of inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and of conspiring with his lawyer and extremist groups to try to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the presidential election he lost to Joe Biden.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson by Joseph Sellers, a Washington lawyer, and the NAACP, is part of an expected wave of litigation over the Jan. 6 riot and is believed to be the first filed by a member of Congress. Thompson, the Democratic chair of the House’s homeland security committee, could be joined by other members of Congress, lawyers said.

The case also names as defendants the Republican former president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and groups including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, extremist organizations that had members charged by the Justice Department with taking part in the siege. The suit seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

A Trump adviser, Jason Miller, said in a statement Tuesday that Trump did not organize the rally that preceded the riot and “did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6th.” A lawyer for Giuliani did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

The suit, filed in federal court in Washington under a Reconstruction-era law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, comes after Trump was acquitted on Feb. 13 in a Senate impeachment trial that centred on allegations that he incited the riot that saw five people in attendance die, including a Trump supporter who was fatally shot and a Capitol police officer who was killed in circumstances that are still unclear.

Trump’s acquittal is likely to open the door to fresh legal scrutiny over his actions before and during the siege.

WATCH | McConnell highly critical of Trump despite vote to acquit:

Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, excoriated Donald Trump on Saturday for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, but defended his vote to acquit him at the impeachment trial. 2:49

Even some Republicans who voted to acquit Trump on Saturday acknowledged that the more proper venue to deal with Trump was in the courts, especially now that he has left the White House and lost certain legal protections that shielded him as president.

“We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation and former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one,” Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said from the chamber floor after the Senate voted 57-43 to find Trump guilty of the impeachment charge, a result that didn’t meet the threshold of a two-thirds majority for a conviction.

Riot a ‘foreseeable culmination,’ suit alleges

The suit traces the drawn-out effort by Trump and Giuliani to cast doubt on the election results even though courts across the country, and state election officials, repeatedly rejected their baseless allegations of fraud.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the suit says, the men portrayed the election as stolen while Trump “endorsed rather than discouraged” threats of violence from his angry supporters in the weeks leading up to the assault on the Capitol.

“The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence,” the suit says. “It was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully co-ordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College.”


Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, was at the pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, where he encouraged a ‘trial by combat’ in his speech. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Presidents are historically afforded broad immunity from lawsuits for actions they take in their role as commander-in-chief. But the lawsuit filed Tuesday was brought against Trump in his personal, not official, capacity and alleges that none of the behaviour at issue had to do with his responsibilities as president.

“Inciting a riot, or attempting to interfere with the congressional efforts to ratify the results of the election that are commended by the Constitution, could not conceivably be within the scope of ordinary responsibilities of the president,” Sellers said in an AP interview.

“In this respect, because of his conduct, he is just like any other private citizen,” Sellers said.

Though the impeachment case focused squarely on accusations of incitement, the lawsuit more broadly accuses Trump of conspiring to disrupt the constitutional activities of Congress — namely, the certification of election results establishing Biden as the rightful winner — through a months-long effort to discredit the outcome and to lean on individual states and his own vice-president to overturn the contest.

The case against Trump was brought under a provision of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which was passed in response to KKK violence and prohibits violence or intimidation meant to prevent Congress or other federal officials from carrying out their constitutional duties.

“Fortunately, this hasn’t been used very much,” Sellers said. “But what we see here is so unprecedented that it’s really reminiscent of what gave rise to the enactment of this legislation right after the Civil War.”

Defending use of ‘trial by combat’

The suit cites incendiary comments that Trump and Giuliani made in the weeks leading up to the riot and on the day of it that lawyers say were designed to mobilize supporters to work to overturn the election results and to prevent the Senate’s certification process. That process was temporarily interrupted when Trump loyalists broke into the Capitol.

Giuliani has said his exhortation to those in attendance for a “trial by combat” was a Game of Thrones reference to encourage investigations of voting systems used in the Nov. 3 vote.

Dominion Voting Systems, which has headquarters in Toronto, is one of two voting software companies to target Trump allies in lawsuits.

Trump told supporters at a rally preceding the riot to “fight like hell,” but lawyers for the former president adamantly denied during the impeachment trial that he had incited the riot. They pointed to a remark during his speech in which he told the crowd to behave “peacefully” that day.

Defence lawyers are likely to revisit those assertions in the lawsuit. They may also argue, as was done during the impeachment case, that Trump’s speech was protected by the First Amendment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that her chamber will move to establish an independent, Sept. 11-style commission to look into the insurrection. Pelosi said the commission will “investigate and report on the facts and causes” relating to the attack and “the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.”

At the White House on Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki said the president supports the formation of a commission. Biden “backs efforts to shed additional light on the facts to ensure something like that never happens again,” she said.

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Independent commission will investigate Jan. 6 siege of U.S. Capitol

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress will establish an independent, Sept. 11-style commission to look into the deadly insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol.

Pelosi says the commission will “investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex.”

The Speaker says in a letter to Democratic colleagues that the House will also put forth supplemental spending to boost security at the Capitol.

Following former president Donald Trump’s acquittal over the weekend at his second Senate impeachment trial, bipartisan support appeared to be growing for an independent commission to examine the deadly insurrection.

Investigations into the riot were already planned, with Senate hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee. Pelosi asked retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore to lead an immediate review of the Capitol’s security process.


U.S. lawmakers say several investigations are already planned into the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

More inquiries likely

In her letter Monday, Pelosi said, “It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened.”

She added, “As we prepare for the Commission, it is also clear from General Honore’s interim reporting that we must put forth a supplemental appropriation to provide for the safety of Members and the security of the Capitol.”

Lawmakers from both parties, speaking on Sunday’s news shows, signaled that more inquiries were likely. The Senate verdict Saturday, with its 57-43 majority falling 10 votes short of the two-thirds needed to convict Trump, hardly put to rest the debate about the Republican former president’s culpability for the Jan. 6 assault.

“There should be a complete investigation about what happened,” said Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump. “What was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again.”

Cassidy said he was “attempting to hold President Trump accountable,” and added that as Americans hear all the facts, “more folks will move to where I was.” He was censured by his state’s party after the vote.


The House Majority leader, Nancy Pelosi, says there will also be increased spending for additional security at the Capitol. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Trump’s behaviour was ‘over the top’

An independent commission along the lines of the one that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks would probably require legislation to create. That would elevate the investigation a step higher, offering a definitive government-backed accounting of events. Still, such a panel would pose risks of sharpening partisan divisions or overshadowing President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.

“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear and a 9/11 commission is a way to make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward,” said Sen. Chris Coons, a Biden ally. “And that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath President Trump really was.”

House prosecutors who argued for Trump’s conviction of inciting the riot said Sunday they had proved their case. They also railed against the Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, and others who they said were “trying to have it both ways” in finding the former president not guilty but criticizing him at the same time.

A close Trump ally, Sen. Lindsey Graham voted for acquittal but acknowledged that Trump had some culpability for the siege at the Capitol that killed five people, including a police officer, and disrupted lawmakers’ certification of Biden’s White House victory. Graham said he looked forward to campaigning with Trump in the 2022 election, when Republicans hope to regain the congressional majority.

“His behaviour after the election was over the top,” Graham said. “We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

The Senate acquitted Trump of a charge of “incitement of insurrection” after House prosecutors laid out a case that he was an “inciter in chief” who unleashed a mob by stoking a months-long campaign of spreading debunked conspiracy theories and false violent rhetoric that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Trump’s lawyers countered that Trump’s words were not intended to incite the violence and that impeachment was nothing but a “witch hunt” designed to prevent him from serving in office again.

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Trump’s defence begins making the case for acquittal on inciting U.S. Capitol riot

Donald Trump’s defence lawyers will make their case on Friday why the former U.S. president is not guilty of inciting last month’s deadly riot at the Capitol, as the Senate races toward a final vote in his second impeachment trial as soon as Saturday.

Trump’s lawyer, David Schoen, said the defence team would take “three to four hours” on Friday to lay out its arguments against convicting Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot, which sent lawmakers scrambling for safety and resulted in the deaths of five people, including a police officer.

Schoen did not discuss the defence strategy, but Trump’s lawyers have argued his rhetoric was protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and that prosecutors had not directly connected the actions of the rioters to Trump.

Democratic prosecutors on Thursday wrapped up two days of arguments for Trump’s conviction, saying the Republican knew what would happen when he exhorted supporters to march on the Capitol as Congress gathered to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s election win, and that he should be held accountable.

WATCH | House prosecutors wrap up impeachment case:

House prosecutors wrapped up their impeachment case against Donald Trump on Thursday insisting the Capitol invaders believed they were acting on ‘the president’s orders’ to stop Joe Biden’s election and warning that he would do it again if not convicted. 2:44

“If he gets back into office and it happens again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves,” lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin told senators.

Senate conviction unlikely

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives charged Trump on Jan. 13 with inciting the insurrection, but Democrats are unlikely to gain a Senate conviction and bar Trump from running for office again.

Conviction requires a two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate, which means at least 17 Republicans would have to defy Trump despite his continued popularity among Republican voters.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted largely along party lines to move ahead with the impeachment trial even though Trump’s term ended on Jan. 20. Six of 50 Republican senators broke with their caucus to side with Democrats.

In their arguments, the Democratic prosecutors provided numerous examples of Trump’s actions prior to the rampage to illustrate what he intended when he told supporters to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” as lawmakers convened for the election certification.

Trump falsely claimed his Nov. 3 election loss was the result of widespread fraud.

“He knew that egged on by his tweets, his lies and his promise of a ‘wild’ time in Washington to guarantee his grip on power, his most extreme followers would show up bright and early, ready to attack, ready to engage in violence, ready to ‘fight like hell’ for their hero,” Raskin said.

WATCH | Several Republicans criticized Trump in immediate riot aftermath:

House manager Joe Neguse used Republicans’ video statements about Trump’s involvement in encouraging the riot to further the Democrats’ argument that he incited violence. 2:08 

Several Republican senators praised the presentation of the Democratic House prosecutors, although they questioned whether it had changed any minds.

“There was a lot of useful information presented today and the Democrats certainly presented an emotionally jarring and powerful argument, but it doesn’t change my opinion that removing a former president from an office he no longer holds is unconstitutional,” Republican Sen. Mike Braun tweeted.

Republican senators met with defence lawyers

Three Republican senators who are sitting as jurors at the trial — Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee — met with the Trump defence team on Thursday night to discuss its legal approach, a source familiar with the meeting said.

“We were discussing their strategy for tomorrow and we were sharing our thoughts in terms of where the argument was and where it should go,” Cruz told reporters.

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy told reporters he wanted to hear the defence respond to the timeline laid out by House prosecutors detailing Trump’s inaction as the riot developed and his call to a senator even as lawmakers were being evacuated.

“Now, presumably since we were at that point being evacuated I think … there was some awareness of the events,” Cassidy said. “And so what I hope the defence does is explain that.”

Neither side has so far announced an intention to call witnesses, leaving senators on track for final arguments and a vote as soon as Saturday.

Trump is the first U.S. president to be impeached twice and the first to face trial after leaving office. His first impeachment trial, which stemmed from his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, ended in an acquittal a year ago in what was then a Republican-controlled Senate.

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Democrats use video, Trump’s own words to argue he incited Capitol attack

Prosecutors at Donald Trump’s impeachment trial said Wednesday they would prove that the former president was no “innocent bystander” but the “inciter in chief” of the deadly attack at the U.S. Capitol aimed at overturning his election loss to Joe Biden.

Opening the first full day of arguments, the lead House prosecutor said they will lay out evidence that shows the president encouraged a rally crowd to head to the Capitol on Jan. 6, then did nothing to stem the violence and watched with “glee” as a mob stormed the iconic building. Five people died.

“To us it may have felt like chaos and madness, but there was method to the madness that day,” Rep. Jamie Raskin said.

The day’s proceedings were unfolding after an emotional start Tuesday that left the former president fuming when his attorneys delivered a meandering defence and failed to halt the trial on constitutional grounds. Some allies called for yet another shakeup to his legal team.

Trump is the first president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached. The Jan. 6 Capitol riot followed a rally during which Trump urged his supporters to “fight like hell,” words his lawyers say were simply a figure of speech. He is charged with “incitement of insurrection.”

Impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse said that Trump “used his speech as a call to arms.”


Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager from the House of Representatives, is shown Tuesday addressing the U.S. Senate at the beginning of the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. (U.S. Senate TV/Reuters)

House Democratic prosecutors are seeking to link the former Republican president directly to the deadly riot, replaying videos of the rioters trying to stop the certification of Biden’s victory and Trump’s statements urging them to fight the election results.

“This was, as one of our colleagues put it, so cogently on Jan. 6 itself, the greatest betrayal of the presidential oath in the history of the United States. The evidence will show you that he saw it coming and was not remotely surprised by the violence,” Raskin said. 

Security footage not previously released

The prosecutors are arguing that Trump’s words weren’t just free speech but part of “the big lie” — his relentless efforts to sow doubts about the Nov. 3 election results. Those began long before the votes were tabulated, revving up his followers to “stop the steal,” though there was no evidence of substantial fraud.

They used Trump’s own words — from his tweets dating from months before the election in which he warned his supporters the vote would be rigged and from the days following it, repeating his messages of “stop the steal” and “stop the count” — as well as video clips played in the Senate. More video was expected Wednesday, including some that hasn’t been seen before.


U.S. House impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse delivers part of the impeachment managers’ opening argument on Wednesday. (U.S. Senate TV/Handout via Reuters)

Trump knew very well what would happen when he took to the microphone at the outdoor White House rally that day, almost to the hour that Congress gavelled in to certify Biden’s win, Neguse said.

“This was not just a speech,” he said.

Trump’s supporters were prepped and armed, ready to descend on the Capitol, Neguse said. “When they heard his speech, they understood his words.”

WATCH | Trump could suffer permanent damage politically regardless of verdict:

A panel of U.S. politics experts break down the first day of former president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial and what the goal is, considering the Senate is unlikely to convict him. 8:06

House impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell detailed how Trump announced the rally on Twitter, writing on Dec. 19: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Swalwell said that Jan. 6 was Trump’s “last chance to stop a peaceful transition of power.” He said Trump’s tweet wasn’t a “casual, one-off reference or a single invitation” and that for the next 18 days, he reminded his supporters “over and over and over” to show up.

“This was never about one speech,” Swalwell said. “He built this mob over many months with repeated messaging until they believed that they’d been robbed of their vote, and they would do anything to stop the certification.”

As violence mounted in the states during the weeks and months before Trump supporters marched to the Capitol, the House managers argued he could have told loyalists to stand down, but didn’t.

The mob “didn’t come out of thin air,” said Rep . Joaquin Castro.

Republicans unmoved

But during a break in the trial Wednesday afternoon, many Republicans appeared indifferent to the Democratic prosecutors’ case and made it clear they were still unlikely to convict.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said the prosecutors’ case was “predictable” and included information that was already public.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, another close ally of Trump, said the trial “is going to be pretty tedious.” He said the two sides would be better served to make their case “in a couple hours, and be done with this.”

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe said Democrats have “put a real good team together,” but said he didn’t think anything had been said “by either side that has changed any votes.”

CNN reported that some Republican senators didn’t even appear to be listening to what the prosecutors were laying out. 


Sen. Josh Hawley told reporters during a break in the trail on Wednesday that the Democrats’ case was ‘predictable.’ (/Joshua Roberts/Pool/Reuters)

Trump frustrated with legal team

Senators, many of whom fled for safety on the day of the attack, watched Tuesday’s graphic videos of the Trump supporters who battled past police to storm the halls.

A frustrated Trump on Tuesday night revived his demands to focus his defence on his unsupported claims of voter fraud, repeatedly telephoning former White House aide Peter Navarro, who told the Associated Press in an interview he agrees. He is calling on Trump to fire his legal team.

“If he doesn’t make a mid-course correction here, he’s going to lose this Super Bowl,” Navarro said, in a reference to public opinion, not the unlikely possibility of conviction.

Republicans made it clear after Tuesday’s proceedings that they, too, were unhappy with Trump’s defence, many of them saying they didn’t understand where it was going — particularly Castor’s opening.

6 of 50 Republicans vote that trial is constitutional

Security remains extremely tight at the Capitol, which is fenced off with razor wire and patrolled by National Guard troops.

Six Republicans joined with Democrats on Tuesday to vote to proceed with the trial in a 56-44 vote. A two-thirds threshold of 67 votes would be needed for conviction.

WATCH | Highlights from Day 2:

Democrats opened former U.S. president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial with some of the worst scenes captured of the Capitol Hill riots on Jan. 6. While Trump’s conviction is unlikely, it could still serve to further divide Republicans. 2:32

It appears unlikely that the House prosecutors will call witnesses, and Trump has declined a request to testify. The trial is expected to continue at least until the weekend.

Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency.

This time, Trump’s “stop the steal” rally rhetoric for two months after the Nov. 3 election and the storming of the Capitol played out for the world to see.

The Democratic-led House impeached the president swiftly, one week after the attack.

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