Rep. Bennie Thompson has withdrawn from a lawsuit he filed against former President Donald Trump, Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers groups over the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, pulled his claim against the defendants Tuesday, although he said the other plaintiffs will still pursue theirs.
Filed in federal court on Feb. 16, the lawsuit accuses Mr. Trump, his former lawyer and their co-defendants of illegally conspiring to incite the riot that unfolded in and around the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Ten other House Democrats joined Mr. Thompson as plaintiffs in April, and motions to dismiss were filed the following month on behalf of Mr. Trump, Mr. Giuliani and the Oath Keepers militia organization.
However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has since appointed Mr. Thompson to chair the select committee established to investigate the Capitol riot, prompting his decision to separate himself from the lawsuit.
“While Rep. Thompson continues to believe strongly in the merits of this case, he wishes to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest between his role on the select committee and his role as a plaintiff in this litigation,” lawyers Janette McCarthy-Wallace and Joseph M. Sellers wrote on behalf of the congressman in the notice of voluntary dismissal with prejudice they filed in federal court.
Mr. Thompson later stated that he will refrain from sharing any information that he acquires as head of the select committee that is not already available to the public or to others members of Congress.
The select committee was established to investigate the attack on the Capitol, which occurred as Congress met to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Supporters of Mr. Trump, the loser of the election, forced House and Senate members to flee and hide upon breaking into the Capitol building, delaying the certification of the results by several hours.
The lawsuit started by Mr. Thompson accuses Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani of inciting and directing the rioters at a rally near the White House earlier on Jan. 6 in violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
“As part of this unified plan to prevent the counting of Electoral College votes, defendants Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, through their leadership, acted in concert to spearhead the assault on the Capitol while the angry mob that Defendants Trump and Giuliani incited descended on the Capitol,” reads part of the original 32-page complaint filed on behalf of Mr. Thompson in federal court in the District of Columbia.
“The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence. It was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully coordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College,” lawyers for the Democratic congressmen said in the lawsuit.
The Proud Boys, a fraternal group of self-described “western chauvinists,” have not responded to the lawsuit in court.
House Democrats pursuing the lawsuit include Reps. Jarrold Nadler of New York, Karen Bass of California, Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Veronica Escobar of Texas, Hank Johnson of Georgia, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Barbara Lee of California, Maxine Waters of California and Pramila Jayapal of Washington.
The select committee is set to hold its first public hearing on Tuesday, with testimony expected from some of the first responders on the scene of the riot.
• Andrew Blake can be reached at email@example.com.
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