U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta on Friday ruled lawsuits against Donald Trump can move forward because the former president’s speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 “plausibly” could have led to the violent and deadly insurrection.
Trump’s speech likely constituted “words of incitement not protected by the First Amendment,” Judge Mehta added, and could have directed attendees to break the law, the Associated Press reports.
“Fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump told attendees at the Jan. 6 “rally.” He previously had promoted it, saying it would be “wild.”
He said, “(We’re) going to try to and give (weak Republicans) the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,” and then told the crowd to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Among those lawsuits is one filed by U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) who “alleges a conspiracy to violate civil rights, along with negligence, inciting a riot and inflicting emotional distress,” USA Today reported when the suit was filed in April.
Swalwell charges that Trump, his son Donald Jr., along with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, had made “false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the Defendant’s express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol.”
On Friday Judge Mehta ruled lawsuits against Giuliani and Trump Jr. could not move forward, saying they constituted First Amendment protected speech.