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Kaptur among 10 members of Congress joining lawsuit against Trump, Giuliani for conspiring to incite US Capitol riot

In the filing, Kaptur and other members of Congress describe at length their experiences trapped inside the House gallery as rioters stormed and entered the Capitol

TOLEDO, Ohio — U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) is among multiple plaintiffs joining a lawsuit claiming former President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani conspired to incite the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Kaptur was among lawmakers sheltering in place inside the House gallery as rioters stormed and entered the Capitol.

In addition to Kaptur, the members joining the lawsuit are U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Karen Bass of California, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Veronica Escobar of Texas, Hank Johnson Jr. of Georgia, Barbara Lee of California, Jerry Nadler of New York, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Maxine Waters of California.

In a civil lawsuit filed in a personal capacity by Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Trump and Giuliani are accused of conspiring with far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to incite the Jan. 6 insurrection. The lawsuit cites a post-Civil War law intended to combat violence and intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan. The suit is supported by the NAACP, whose president, Derrick Johnson, accused Trump of inciting "a meticulously organized coup."

The groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are also named as defendants. This newly filed complaint also names as the Warboys LLC, operating in conjunction with the Proud Boys, and Enrique Tarrio, an alleged leader of the Proud Boys and Warboys.

"As part of this unified plan to prevent the counting of Electoral College votes," the lawsuit states, "Defendants Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, through their leadership, acted in concert to spearhead the assault on the Capitol while the angry mob that Defendants Trump and Giuliani incited descended on the Capitol. The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence. It was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully coordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College."

Reached for comment on Wednesday, Kaptur said: 

“The events of January 6 were no accident. There must be consequences for those who contributed to the coordinated attempt to overturn a free and fair election and harm our democracy. This lawsuit is an important step in repairing the damage that has been done, and I am pleased to join so many of my colleagues in this fight.”

In the most recent filing, the members of Congress described their experiences in the Capitol on Jan. 6. Kaptur's testimony is as follows:

When the attack on the Capitol began, Rep. Kaptur was seated in the Gallery of the House of Representatives, prepared to discharge her constitutional duties of tallying the ballots of the Electoral College and certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

Rep. Kaptur was present when the proceedings began at 1:00 PM, as required by the Electoral Count Act of 1887. 

Sometime after the proceedings were underway, Rep. Kaptur witnessed law enforcement officer escort the Vice President and the Speaker of the House off the House floor. Another Member of the House leadership attempted to preside over the debate, but the proceedings were totally interrupted by loud and unruly shouting and banging heard nearby. Rep. Kaptur also heard echoing sounds in the stairwell of the Capitol. Then a Capitol Police officer ran into the House Chamber, announcing that police were trying to gain control of some corridors that had been breached by rioters, prompting some concern that her safety and that of other members might be in jeopardy. Thereafter, the House was called into recess and she and other members were instructed to remain seated. 

While she was seated in the Gallery, Rep. Kaptur grew increasingly worried about the safety of the members and staff as she heard loud noises and bangs in the hallways outside the House Chamber that sounded like logs being pounded against the doors. She grew increasingly eager to exit the Gallery, as she feared that hostile intruders might enter the House Chamber and put her safety at risk. 

Rep. Kaptur's worries that threats to her safety were nearby were heightened when a Capitol Police officer announced tear gas had been launched in the Rotunda and urged them to put on gas masks stored under their seats. Rep. Kaptur had not been trained on how to remove the gas mask from its case and metallic shrink-wrapping or how to use the gas mask. She faced a dilemma that worried her, as she feared wearing a gas mask would fog up her glasses, making it difficult to see clearly and ultimately to exit. 

Her concern for her safety grew as banging on the Gallery doors became louder and more frequent and she saw an officer pushing back on a heavy door. 

Rep. Kaptur, being one of about a dozen members feeling stranded in the Gallery for some time, was eventually instructed to exit the area by crossing to the opposite side of the Gallery. Her exit was delayed and made more difficult by the need to pass through many sets of low-rise railings by either climbing over the railings or crouching under them. Several members ahead of her struggled to crouch below those railings. But when she reached the other end of the Gallery, Rep. Kaptur was directed by the Capitol Police to crouch down and hide behind the short balcony wall and wait quietly. As the intruders continued to storm the hallways and bang on the Gallery doors, she was informed there was still no safe exit. There was no means to assure who might be on the other side of the Gallery's exit. 

While Rep. Kaptur hid on the floor of the Gallery, her fear for her safety and that of her colleagues was confirmed when an officer directed a photographer to cease his efforts to photograph the surroundings, as the flash of the camera might reveal their location to the rioters immediately outside the House Chamber. Rep. Kaptur remained on the Gallery floor for close to half an hour before she was finally allowed to exit. Her last view of the House floor was of several law enforcement officers standing with their firearms drawn towards the doors to the House Chamber. 

After she exited the Gallery, Rep. Kaptur traveled a long distance through hallways and stairwells down to the sub-basement, where she finally arrived at a very crowded room where other members and their staffs sheltered. After leaving threats to her physical safety, Rep. Kaptur grew concerned for her health, as she was directed to shelter in a room in which members could not remain socially distant and many refused to wear masks, as the CDC prescribed as the means to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19. Rep. Kaptur was 74 years old at the time and therefore within the age group for which the virus posed the greatest risk to her health. 

Rep. Kaptur was required to remain in this room for several hours until she was informed that it was safe to return to her office. She returned to her office and joined her staff at approximately 9:00 PM, at which time she left the Capitol complex and returned home.