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Judge sets January arguments for lawsuits seeking to hold Trump accountable for US Capitol riot

<i>Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images</i><br/>Then-President Donald Trump arrives at the
Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Then-President Donald Trump arrives at the "Stop The Steal" Rally on January 6

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN Reporter, Crime and Justice

Three civil lawsuits from lawmakers and Capitol Police officers that seek to hold Donald Trump and his closest advisers accountable for the US Capitol riot are moving forward after months of inaction.

Judge Amit Mehta of the DC District Court has set oral arguments on whether the cases — which are separate from the congressional or criminal investigations — should be dismissed for January 10.

But the lawsuits’ movement comes as the US House unearths more evidence of the Trump White House wanting to derail Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential vote.

In one complaint that Mehta will consider, former House impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell sued Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, claiming their speeches on January 6 incited the riot and inflicted emotional distress on members of Congress.

Brooks has so far raised arguments that he cannot be liable because in his January 6 appearance, he was acting within the scope of his political office.

In another, two US Capitol Police officers sued Trump, claiming he directed his followers to assault them.

In the third lawsuit, Rep. Bennie Thompson and other lawmakers accused Trump and Rudy Giuliani of conspiring with the far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to incite the January 6 insurrection. Thompson withdrew from the lawsuit when he became part of the House Select Committee investigating January 6.

Some of the complaints cite a post-Civil War law designed to combat violence and intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan.

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.

Some Republican leaders in Congress had pointed to civil lawsuits as a way to lay responsibility on Trump, after he was impeached but acquitted by the Senate for the events of January 6. The Justice Department criminal probe has remained focused in court so far on the more than 700 rioters on the grounds of and inside the Capitol that day, as the trespassers and assaults are punished under the law.

Trump and his top advisers have not been charged with any crimes. Trump and others who are sued have argued they are not responsible for the actions of the people who stormed the Capitol.

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