At a rally in Kentucky in 2016, three protesters were assaulted by Trump supporters, including notorious white supremacist Matthew Heimbach. They filed suit not only against those who assaulted them but also against Trump for inciting violence against them during the rally. A federal judge has now refused to dismiss that charge against Trump, saying that there is evidence to support that accusation.
U. S. District Judge David J. Hale ruled in a March 31 opinion that he is rejecting requests from Trump and his supporters named as defendants in the case to dismiss the charges brought by three rally protesters because there was precedent of violence at previous Trump rallies, and Trump was inciting violence by ordering the removal of protesters.
The protesters, Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau, filed suit after they were forcibly removed a Trump rally in Louisville, Ky., in March 2016, claiming Trump encouraged a violent atmosphere and they were the targets of racial slurs.
“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ’em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” Hale wrote in his memorandum. “Based on the allegations of the complaint, which the Court must accept as true, Trump’s statement at least ‘implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action.’”
This is a long way from winning the case. The evidence needed to reject a motion to dismiss is far lower than the evidence needed to find him liable. The case will now go to trial. During the campaign, Trump repeatedly told his audience to rough up protesters and even promised to pay their legal fees if they got arrested for it. In February, 2016 at a rally in Iowa, he said, “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Just knock the hell …. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”
At a rally in Alabama, he told the audience after a protester showed up, “Get him the hell out of here, will you, please? Get him out of here. Throw him out!” And the next day on Fox News he said “maybe he should have been roughed up. Maybe he should have been roughed up. Because it was totally disgusting what he was doing.” At a February, 2016 rally in Las Vegas, he responded to a protester:
“See, he’s smiling. See, he’s having a good time. Oh, I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches. We’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days, you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out in a stretcher, folks. Oh, it’s true. … The guards are very gentle with him. He’s walking out with big high-fives, smiling, laughing. I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you,”
Whether these actually rise to the level to meet the standard for inciting violence, an exception to the First Amendment that is very narrowly drawn, remains to be seen. This is only one of several lawsuits that involve such allegations. It’s a pretty close call, legally. But what is obvious is that Trump really does want anyone who protests against him to be beaten up. He sees that as being manly and not “weak.” And that fact alone is highly disturbing.