Washington, D.C. — On Tuesday, the States United Democracy Center joined Jared Holt, resident fellow of the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) at the Atlantic Council, to file an amicus brief in federal court in Washington, D.C., supporting three cases that allege that then-President Donald J. Trump intended his supporters to violently disrupt Congress’s count of the Electoral votes on January 6, 2021. The plaintiffs in these cases are eleven members of Congress and two U.S. Capitol Police officers, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby.
The brief focuses on the overwhelming public information that suggests Trump’s connection to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. Additionally, the brief outlines the history of pro-Trump-related violence and then-President Donald Trump’s encouragement of that violence. It shows how he has coordinated with and promoted conspiracy-driven movements and individuals who have inspired extremist violence, including Alex Jones and QAnon.
“Trump’s long—and public—embrace of his most extreme supporters’ violence provides more than enough support to move this case forward,” said Jared Holt, resident fellow of the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) at the Atlantic Council. “The events that unfolded on January 6, 2021 are the clear outgrowth of Trump’s cultivation of the most extreme elements of his base. From asserting that there were ‘good people on both sides’ in Charlottesville, to praising the ‘tough people’ among his supporters who can turn ‘very bad, very bad’ if needed, Trump has consistently and openly communicated to these supporters that he approves of and encourages their violence.”
“The wealth of publicly available information concerning Trump’s long history of cultivating political violence alone clears the legal bar for allowing these cases to move into the discovery phase,” said Christine P. Sun, Legal Director at the States United Democracy Center. “Even to this very day, Trump continues to praise the most violent elements of his base while inundating them with false claims of election fraud in a desperate—and dangerous—attempt to overturn an election he soundly lost.”
Key excerpts from the brief are included below:
From asserting that there were “good people on both sides” in Charlottesville, to praising the “tough people” among his supporters who can turn “very bad, very bad” if needed, Trump has, for years, consistently and openly showed these supporters that he approves of them and their violence. As documented below, in the weeks leading up to January 6, Trump continued to court these most violent elements of his base while inundating them with false claims of election fraud. He did this knowing that his most extreme supporters were publicly pledging to use violence to keep Trump in office and proved that commitment by participating in armed and increasingly violent demonstrations in Michigan and elsewhere after the 2020 election. Indeed, given Trump’s increasingly desperate efforts to block the election results, it is more than plausible that Trump intended for those attendees to do whatever it took to disrupt the last step before Joe Biden’s victory became official—Congress’s January 6 count of the Electoral College votes—including committing the violence they said they were prepared to commit.
Trump, along with the rest of America, knew his supporters were capable of violence, because they had been committing violent acts in his name since even before he was elected. He knew it because they continued to commit violence and participate in armed demonstrations after the election, as Trump promoted baseless conspiracy theories about a stolen election. And he knew it because he repeatedly praised his supporters’ violent tendencies and even asked them to commit violence on his behalf.
About the States United Democracy Center
The States United Democracy Center is a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections. We focus on connecting state officials, law enforcement leaders, and pro-democracy partners across America with the tools and expertise they need to safeguard our democracy.