Skip to navigationSkip to content
Image of Trump.
AP Photo/John Bazemore
Trumponomics
ET AL

A US federal judge greenlights a lawsuit against Donald Trump for inciting violence

By Selina Cheng

In yet another legal quagmire for the US president, a US federal judge has allowed a lawsuit against Donald Trump to proceed, which accuses him of inciting violence during a campaign rally last year.

Three protesters at a Trump rally—two women and a teenage boy—claim they were assaulted by three men after Trump encouraged them to do so from his podium last March.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based plaintiffs brought the suit against Trump for “incitement to riot.” The complaint describes how then presidential candidate Trump repeatedly called his supporters to ”get them out of here” during the rally at the Kentucky International Convention Center. The protesters say they were forced to leave the rally and were “shoved,” “struck,” and “punched” by three men, according to court documents.

The attackers, Matthew Heimbach and Alvin Bamberger, are also named defendants in the lawsuit for assault and battery. The court document cited a letter penned by Bamberger, saying: “Trump kept saying ‘get them out, get them out’ and people in the crowd began pushing and shoving the protestors… I physically pushed a young woman down the aisle toward the exit…”

US District Judge David Hale denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss based on First Amendment rights, which argued that Trump’s statement “get ’em out of here” was constitutionally protected as free speech.

The lawsuit is one of many facing Trump since before he entered the White House. Just before becoming president, Trump paid out $25 million to settle three lawsuits brought against Trump University. USA Today counted 75 ongoing suits against Trump shortly before the inauguration.

In another case filed against Trump just before the inauguration for harassment, he attempted to claim presidential immunity from civil suits based on a supremacy clause in the US constitution. The idea that such lawsuits ”distract a President from his public duties to the detriment of not only the President and his office but also the Nation” came from the 1997 Clinton v. Jones Supreme Court case.

In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that a sitting president is not protected by executive privilege in lawsuits concerning private conduct, which eventually led to Clinton’s impeachment.