LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A white supremacist accused of assaulting a protester at a Donald Trump campaign rally in Louisville last year has filed a lawsuit against the president, arguing he “relied on Trump’s authority to order disruptive persons removed.”
Matthew Heimbach, a leader with the white supremacist Traditionalist Youth Network, is making a similar argument as Alvin Bamberger, another Trump supporter accused of assaulting a protester at the rally on March 1, 2016.
Bamberger, a 75-year-old Ohio veteran, sued Trump on Friday, saying he "would not have acted as he did without” the then-candidate's “urging and inspiration.”
Three people who claim they were assaulted at the Trump rally filed a lawsuit last year against Trump, his campaign, Heimbach and Bamberger.
Attorneys for Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau 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 his cross-claim filed Monday, Heimbach argued that after Trump asked for the protesters to be removed, he “relied on Trump’s reputation and expertise in doing the things alleged.”
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."
Louisville attorney Stephen Pence, who is representing Bamberger, argued last week 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.
If he is held liable for his actions, Pence argued in the counter-claim, it is because Trump and his campaign “inspired Bamberger to act as he did."
Pence is a former lieutenant governor of Kentucky.
Bamberger also argues that Nwanguma was not injured by his actions and her allegations “do not rise to the level sufficient to support the award of punitive damages.”
Attorneys for Trump denied wrongdoing in an answer to the original lawsuit on Friday, 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.
But Trump's attorneys argued in a response to the suit that while he said “Get them out of here,” he was not directing his comments to the crowd.
And they said Trump told security, “Don’t hurt them.”
Nwanguma, 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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