When we last left Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, he was laying low after revelations of his years-long romantic involvement with Chinese spy “Fang Fang.” Over the course of their relationship, she had raised funds for his campaign and also placed at least one Chinese intern on his Capitol Hill staff. This was especially dangerous because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had seen fit to assign him to the sensitive House Intelligence Committee.
Next to Rep. Adam Schiff, no other Democrat in Congress made more false accusations with zero evidence against former President Donald Trump during his presidency than Swalwell.
You may or may not know that Swalwell, who is best known for farting on national TV, filed a lawsuit last Friday against Trump, his son, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The complaint “alleges nine counts for relief, from negligent emotional distress suffered by Swalwell to negligence in the incitement to riot.”
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who is a Democrat, likens Swalwell’s action against Trump to the French philosopher Voltaire’s oft-repeated prayer, “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.”
Turley writes that “the answer to Donald Trump’s prayers may be Rep. Eric Swalwell. It is because Swalwell’s lawsuit against the former president could offer Trump the ultimate vindication over his role in the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.”
Enter Swalwell, who has long exhibited a willingness to rush in where wiser Democrats fear to tread, with what may be his costliest misstep yet.
First, his lawsuit will force a court to determine if the defendants’ speeches were protected political speech. As if to guarantee failure, Swalwell picked the very tort — emotional distress — that was previously rejected by the Supreme Court. In 2011, the court ruled 8-1 in favor of Westboro Baptist Church, an infamous group of zealots who engaged in homophobic protests at the funerals of slain American troops. In rejecting a suit against the church on constitutional grounds, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.” Roberts distinguished our country from hateful figures like the Westboro group, noting that “as a nation we have chosen a different course — to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”
Next, Swalwell’s team will have to show that “Trump was the factual and legal cause of his claimed injuries.”
With each passing day, it’s becoming more and more difficult, if not impossible to prove that Trump’s speech caused the riot.
Claims of blame would have been easier to make before the House refused to hold hearings on Trump’s impeachment, including weeks after its “snap impeachment.” Now, facts have emerged that implicate Congress itself in the failure to take adequate precautions against rioters, despite advance warnings. Former House officials claimed an FBI warning was sent only in an email, a day before the riot — but FBI Director Christopher Wray has testified that a warning of plans to storm the Capitol was sent on all of the channels created for sharing such intelligence. Moreover, former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testified that he asked for National Guard support but was refused six times; one key official, Sund said, did not like “the optics” of troops guarding Congress. Delays at both the Capitol and the Pentagon allegedly left the Capitol woefully understaffed. And Trump has been quoted by former Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller as warning him the day before the riot that “You do what you need to do. You do what you need to do. You’re going to need 10,000 (troops).”
There also is a growing problem with the riot’s time line.
Turley points out that the events of Jan. 6 didn’t take place in a vacuum. “Various people took actions (or failed to take actions) that left the Capitol vulnerable.”
And, at trial, a comparison could be drawn to the violence around the White House during the previous summer: Fearing a breach of that complex, overwhelming force was used to create an expanded security perimeter — but the use of National Guard troops then was denounced by congressional Democrats, D.C.’s mayor, and the media.
Swalwell “accuses Trump of reckless rhetoric – but Swalwell could find himself on the witness stand having to answer for his own rhetoric.” For example, when “angry protesters surrounded Sen. Susan Collins’s (R-ME) home in 2018, he tweeted “Boo hoo hoo.”
And the best part of all is:
Swalwell’s complaint is timed beautifully to collapse on appeal just before the 2024 election, giving Trump and Republicans the ultimate repudiation of prior Democratic claims.
Finally, Turley brings it back to Voltaire who also once said that “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.” Luckily for Trump, Swalwell not only already exists, but he may be the very answer to Trump’s political prayers.