(CN) – President Donald Trump asked a federal judge Friday to dismiss two supporters’ counterclaims that he inspired them to attack three protesters at a campaign rally.
On March 1, 2016, Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah, and Henry Brousseau attended then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Louisville, Ky., with the intention of “peacefully protesting Trump,” according to court records.
When he saw the protesters, Trump told the crowd, “Get ’em out of here,” allegedly causing white nationalist members of the audience to physically attack them.
Nwanguma and Shah say they were pushed and shoved all the way to the exit while being called “nigger” and “cunt.” Brouseeau, then age 17, claims he was punched in the stomach.
Their attackers allegedly included defendants Matthew Heimbach, considered by Southern Poverty Law Center to be the face of a new generation of white nationalists, and Alvin Bamberger. At Towson University, Heimbach founded a chapter of Youth for Western Civilization and later started the White Student Union.
As they were being attacked, the protesters claim Trump said, “Don’t hurt ’em. If I say go get ’em, I get in trouble with the press.”
Heimbach and Bamberger both filed counterclaims against President Trump along with their responses to the protesters’ complaint, claiming he urged them to remove the protestors and should be liable for any damages the court awards the protestors.
For example, at a Feb. 1, 2016 campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump instructed his supporters to “knock the crap out of” anyone who was “getting ready to throw a tomato,” Heimbach says. At that time Trump also reportedly said, “I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”
At another rally weeks later, Trump discussed the issue of protestors, saying, “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 on a stretcher.”
Heimbach claims he “relied on Trump’s reputation and expertise in doing the things alleged,” and “on Trump’s authority to order disruptive persons removed.”
Bamberger asserts he “would not have acted as he did without Trump and/or the Trump campaign’s specific urging and inspiration.”
Trump filed a motion Friday to dismiss their counterclaims, arguing he “cannot be vicariously liable for merely inspiring others.”
Last month, U.S. District Judge David Hale in Louisville refused to dismiss the protestors’ lawsuit, rejecting the president’s claim that the protestors invited harm by attending the rally.
“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ’em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” Hale said. “Unlike the statements at issue in the cases cited by the Trump defendants, ‘get ’em out of here’ is stated in the imperative; it was an order, an instruction, a command.”
The president argued Friday that even if his words inspired Heimbach and Bamberger to commit violence, “that does not make the Trump defendants vicariously liable for the actions of audience members.”
Trump also rejected the two men’s assertion that he should have to pay their legal bills and any award against them, but made no reference to his campaign “promise” to pay his supporters’ legal fees.
“There can be no debate that, as alleged, Bamberger and Heimbach are the primary
wrongdoers in this case. They are the ones alleged to have engaged in violence and who directly caused plaintiffs’ alleged injuries,” a memo supporting the motion to dismiss states.