DC Attorney General Racine adds Oath Keepers’ leader and more to Capitol insurrection lawsuit

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine added a slew of defendants — including the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers — to his lawsuit over the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by violent protesters loyal to then-President Donald Trump.

In an announcement Friday, Racine’s office said the goal of the federal suit filed in December is to hold the Capitol rioters “accountable.”

The newly named defendants in the lawsuit are: Stewart Rhodes, founder and long-standing leader of the Oath Keepers; other members of the Oath Keepers including Edward Vallejo, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel and Brian Ulrich; and Matthew Greene, the first member of the Proud Boys to plead guilty to charges related to the conspiracy.

Racine said the amended complaint lays out facts that have come to light through criminal cases related to the riot, as well as newly released information. It alleges how the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and others planned, recruited, publicized, funded and then carried out their parts in the insurrection.

“We filed this lawsuit to hold groups and individuals that conspired to attack the Capitol, assault our law enforcement officers and terrorize our community accountable for their brutal and dangerous actions on January 6,” Racine said in the statement.

“We said that we would consider adding more defendants as we uncovered additional evidence. Today, we’re doing exactly that. Over the last few months, we have learned more about the horrors of January 6 — including more about how the leaders of the two groups behind the attack urged members to use violence to overturn the outcome of a lawful presidential election.”

Racine added that his office is “seeking justice” for D.C., “our democracy and the brave law enforcement officers who risked their lives that day.”

“We are focused on using the law to the maximum extent possible to impose financial liability on those who planned and participated in the assault, and believe doing so will deter future illegal attacks,” Racine said.

The lawsuit includes more than three dozen individuals, members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, as well as the groups themselves.

It seeks damages and restitution for harm caused to the District and the physical, mental, and emotional injuries suffered by D.C. police officers.

“The lies and conspiracy theories about our elections that fueled the January 6 attack continue to this day. If we want to prevent future assaults on our democracy, we need accountability for the District and its law enforcement officers,” Joanna Lydgate, CEO of the States United Democracy Center and former chief deputy attorney general of Massachusetts, said in a statement.

“Thanks to the leadership of Attorney General Racine and his team, this case sends the message loud and clear: We will not tolerate violence or any effort to overturn the will of American voters.”

Read the amended complaint online.

During the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, hundreds of violent Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

Since the Jan. 6 attack, more than 775 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol. More than 245 people have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

Trump himself remains a key focus of the investigation.

At the end of March, a federal judge asserted it was “more likely than not” that Trump committed crimes in his attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election, ruling to order the release of more than 100 emails from Trump adviser John Eastman to the committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge David Carter marked a major legal win for the House panel as it looks to correspondence from Eastman, the lawyer who was consulting with Trump as he attempted to overturn the presidential election.

“Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021,” wrote Carter, who was nominated by former President Bill Clinton.

There’s also an almost 8-hour gap in official White House records of Trump’s phone calls from that day as the violence unfolded and his supporters stormed the building, according to two people familiar with the probe.

In other developments in the insurrection investigation, the House committee voted unanimously to hold former Trump advisers Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress for their monthslong refusal to comply with subpoenas in the investigation into the attack.

Lawmakers now plan to reach out to Virginia Thomas — known as Ginni — the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, about her reported text messages with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on the day of the attack, according to two people familiar with the investigation who were granted anonymity to discuss the panel’s private deliberations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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