A white nationalist leader accused of assaulting a young African-American woman at a Donald Trump campaign rally filed a countersuit on Monday claiming the president directed him and other supporters to remove protesters.Matthew Heimbach claims in his federal court filing that he "acted pursuant to the directives and requests of Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump for President" and that, if he's found liable for damages, "any liability must be shifted to one or both of them."
In February 2016, as part of his general embrace of violence as a campaign tool, Donald Trump offered some advice to supporters in Iowa. "[I]f you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously, okay, just knock the hell," he said. "I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees; I promise, I promise."That "promise" is suddenly of growing importance.A month after Trump made the comments, the Republican campaigned in Kentucky, where he was interrupted by three protesters. Trump barked, "Get 'em out of here!" from the stage, and some of his supporters quickly confronted and roughed up the detractors.The protesters are now suing both Trump and the Trump supporters who allegedly assaulted them, and a federal judge recently decided to allow the case to move forward. The protesters insist the president bears some responsibility for inciting violence, which isn't protected by the First Amendment.But just as interesting is the fact that the other defendants appear to agree. Yesterday, we discussed Alvin Bamberger, who was seen on video shoving the protesters at the March 2016 rally, and whose attorney argued on Friday that the plaintiffs are largely correct about Trump's culpability. In fact, Bamberger is not only blaming the president, he also expects Trump to pay damages if the case goes the plaintiff's way.Yesterday, it happened again. Politico reported:
This a story with multiple players and multiple suits, so let's try to clarify matters:1. The protesters are suing Trump and three Trump supporters who allegedly assaulted them.2. One of the defendants, Alvin Bamberger, is blaming Trump, saying his actions were "in response to -- and inspired by -- Trump and/or the Trump Campaign's urging to remove the protesters."3. Another one of the defendants, Matthew Heimbach, is not only blaming Trump, he's now suing him, too. In fact, in his filing yesterday, Heimbach wrote that he "relied on Trump's reputation and expertise in doing the things alleged."As for Trump's lawyers, they want the case to go away, writing in a court filing on Friday, "Mr. Trump is immune from suit because he is President of the United States." Of course, that's the argument the judge in the case already dismissed.If/when this case enters the deposition phase, it may get even more interesting.