Trump attorneys ask judge to dismiss lawsuits filed by white supremacist, vet
“Even if Bamberger and Heimbach felt ‘inspired’ by Mr. Trump’s statement, that does not render” Trump liable for what they did, according to the motion.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Attorneys for Donald Trump have asked a federal judge to dismiss lawsuits filed against him by a white supremacist and Korean War era veteran who claim the president “inspired” them to allegedly assault protesters when they removed them from a Louisville rally last year.
The motion, filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in Louisville, argues that Trump is not responsible for any actions committed by Matthew Heimbach, a leader with the white supremacist Traditionalist Youth Network, and Alvin Bamberger, another Trump supporter accused of assaulting a protester at the rally on March 1, 2016.
Three people who claim they were assaulted at the Trump rally filed a lawsuit last year against Trump, his campaign, Heimbach and Bamberger.
Attorney Kent Westberry argues there “are not facts to suggest” Trump or his campaign “had control over Bamberger or Heimbach” and they cannot be held liable for their actions, according to the motion.
“There can be no debate that, as alleged, Bamberger and Heimbach are the primary wrongdoers in this case,” according to the motion. “They are the ones alleged to have engaged in violence and who directly caused plaintiffs’ alleged injuries.”
Also, Westberry claims there is no allegation that Trump told members of the audience to “harm” any of the protesters, including plaintiffs, Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau, who have said they were peacefully protesting at the Kentucky International Convention Center when Trump stopped his speech and told his supporters to “get ‘em out of here.”
In fact, Westberry said Trump specifically said, “Don’t hurt them,” after his “get ‘em out of here” comment.
Westberry cited a lawsuit in which a basketball player punched an opponent during a game and the victim sued the coach, saying he had inspired his player. That claim was rejected by the courts.
“The same is true here,” Westberry argued. “Even if Bamberger and Heimbach felt ‘inspired’ by Mr. Trump’s statement,that does not render” Trump liable for what they did, according to the motion.
In his lawsuit against Trump, Heimbach argues he “relied on Trump’s authority to order disruptive persons removed.”
Heimbach, who is representing himself, said in court papers that “Trump is a world famous businessman, worth, according to his own claims, billions of dollars, and who relies on various professionals including attorneys and other professional advisers.”
Thus, Heimbach believed Trump was "legally within his rights to ask other attendees to assist in defending their own constitutional rights against 'protesters' who were disrupting," according to the suit.
In addition, Heimbach claims that throughout his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump requested protesters be removed and at one rally in Iowa promised to pay "legal fees" to any supporter who would "knock the crap out of" anyone.
During a rally in Las Vegas, Heimbach claims Trump said that in the "old days," a protester would be "carried out on a stretcher."
Bamberger, a 75-year-old Ohio veteran, sued Trump, saying he "would not have acted as he did without” the then-candidate's “urging and inspiration.”
Louisville attorney Stephen Pence, who is representing Bamberger, has argued that Trump and his campaign “repeatedly urged people attending” the then-candidate’s rallies to “remove individuals who were voicing opposition to Trump's candidacy.”
Bamberger acknowledged he “touched” a woman but denied assaulting anyone. A video of Bamberger pushing Nwanguma went viral soon after the rally.
Attorneys for Trump have denied wrongdoing in an answer to the original lawsuit, arguing, in part, that he is “immune from suit because he is President.”
In that response, attorneys for Trump asked that the lawsuit be dismissed and the president be awarded costs, expenses and attorney’s fees.
If anyone was injured, Trump's attorneys argue, it was not because of anything the then-candidate said during the rally.
The filing Friday from Trump’s attorneys, an “answer” to the original lawsuit, is a required step in civil litigation proceedings.
In it, Trump's attorneys offered 15 potential defenses; including freedom of speech, immunity and that the protesters were “responsible for their own injuries.”
Judge David J. Hale of U.S. District Court in Louisville ruled recently that the suit against Trump can proceed, finding it “plausible” that Trump’s directions advocated the use of force.
Nwanguma, then a 21-year-old University of Louisville student, claims she was protesting non-violently, carrying a sign depicting Trump’s face on the body of a pig. The lawsuit alleges Nwanguma was called racist and sexist slurs and repeatedly assaulted. Heimbach and Bamberger both shoved and struck her, according to the lawsuit.
As part of his defense, Heimbach is arguing the protesters "provoked" him and he "acted, if at all, in self defense."
Criminal summonses have been issued for Heimbach, Bamberger and Indiana resident Joseph Pryor.
All three men have been charged with harassment with physical contact Nwanguma. The charge is a misdemeanor.
A criminal summons is signed by a judge and states the crime the person has been accused of and orders them to appear in court. However all three men live out of state and misdemeanor charges don’t allow for them to be extradited.
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