WASHINGTON – A House member is suing former President Donald Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and a fellow House member for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but the toughest hurdle has proved to be just serving Rep. Mo Brooks with the lawsuit.
The lawyer for Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., tried contacting Brooks’ office and received no reply. The lawyer couldn’t visit the office in person because of security restrictions since the riot. Swalwell even hired a private detective to track down Brooks, with no luck.
“Plaintiff’s investigator has spent many hours over may days in April and May at locations in multiple jurisdictions attempting to locate and serve Brooks, to no avail,” according to a court filing.
Adding insult to alleged injury, Brooks, R-Ala., appears quite aware of the lawsuit. Brooks tweeted hours after the lawsuit was filed that the lawsuit “is a meritless ploy.”
Rep. Swalwell says Trump built mob 'over many months with repeated messaging' (Photo: ap)
Plaintiffs usually get 90 days to serve defendants with a lawsuit, so the case can formally begin. The deadline would have been Friday.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta granted Swalwell a 60-day extension Wednesday, after Swalwell, a former prosecutor, described several failed strategies to serve Brooks. But Mehta rejected Swalwell’s request to have U.S. Marshals serve Brooks because of concerns about separation of powers between the three branches of government.
Swalwell and Brooks are each lightning rods for criticism from their opposing parties. Swalwell investigated Trump as a member of the Judiciary and Intelligence committees. He helped prosecute Trump in his second impeachment trial in the Senate, where Trump was acquitted for a second time.
On March 5, Swalwell filed the civil lawsuit against Trump, his namesake son, Giuliani and Brooks, arguing they were responsible for “a campaign of lies and incendiary rhetoric which led to the sacking of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.”
Trump and his son waived the necessity of formal service of the lawsuit and replied in a court filing that Swalwell’s “emotional infirmities” led him to run afoul of important First Amendment doctrines. Giuliani also waived formal service of the lawsuit and replied in a court filing the claims were “entirely implausible, inadequately pleaded and, in any event, are barred by the First Amendment.
With the White House in the background, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ark., speaks Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, at a rally in support of President Donald Trump called the "Save America Rally." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) ORG XMIT: DCJM416 (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVE)
Brooks is a target because he spoke at the Trump rally near the White House Jan. 6 that preceded the attack at the Capitol. Brooks is quoted in the lawsuit as urging the crowd it was time to start “kicking ass” and asking whether participants were “willing to do what it takes to fight for America?”
Swalwell’s lawyer, Philip Andonian, twice contacted Brooks’ office seeking the chief of staff and counsel. But those officials never returned calls. The Rayburn House Office Building, where Brooks has an office, had been restricted until recently to lawmakers and staffers since the riot.
So far, no luck.
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