A federal judge has rejected President Donald Trump’s free speech defense in a lawsuit in which he is accused of inciting violence against protesters during his campaign.
Trump’s lawyers sought to dismiss the lawsuit by three protesters who say they were roughed up by Trump supporters at a March 2016 campaign rally in Louisville.
Trump’s lawyers contend that when the candidate said “Get ’em out of here”, he didn’t intend for his supporters to use force.
Two women and a man say they were shoved and punched by audience members as Trump directed them from the podium. Much of the scuffle was captured on video and widely broadcast during the presidential campaign.
Judge David J Hale in Louisville ruled on Friday that the suit against Trump, his campaign and three of his supporters can proceed.
Hale found that there were ample facts supporting the allegation that the protesters’ injuries were a “direct and proximate result” of Trump’s actions.
“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ‘em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” Hale wrote.
Two of the Trump supporters are named in the suit. They are Alvin Bamberger, a member of the Korean War Veterans Association (KWVA) from Ohio, and Matthew Heimbach, a leader of the white supremacist group Traditional Youth Network from Paoli, Indiana.
Bamberger reportedly expressed regret over having been “caught up in the frenzy” at the rally, in a statement to the KWVA last year.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups, says Heimbach is “considered by many to be the face of a new generation of white nationalists”.
Source: The Guardian newspaper web site.