A leader of a Paoli, Indiana-based white nationalist group who is accused of assaulting protesters at a Donald Trump rally last year has filed a cross-suit against the president and his campaign.
Both Trump and Matthew Heimbach, of Paoli, are among the defendants named in a suit
filed by three Trump protesters who claim they were assaulted during a Trump rally in Louisville on March 1, 2016.
Heimbach said in court papers filed Monday in U.S. District Court that he relied on Trump's "reputation and expertise" in following his orders to remove the protesters from the Kentucky International Convention Center
Heimbach alleges that Trump and his campaign were negligent "in the exercise of their legal authority" when they asked for the removal and as such should be held equally responsible if Heimbach is found liable.
The Courier-Journal previously reported that Heimbach is a leader of the Traditionalist Youth Network, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a white nationalist group. He acknowledged in a social media post last year that he was involved in the rally altercation.
Video taken at the rally shows some in the crowd shouting at protesters and shoving them toward the door.
"Now there’s some viral footage of several heated moments in Louisville. One features yours truly helping the crowd drive out one of the women who had been pushing, shoving, barking, and screaming at the attendees for the better part of an hour," he said in a post on the Traditionalist Youth Network website.
Trump protesters Henry Brousseau, Kashiya Nwanguma and Molly Shah filed the federal lawsuit last year seeking unspecified monetary damages, claiming they were assaulted by audience members who were riled up by Trump.
In his filing Monday, Heimbach acknowledged he is a Trump supporter, was at the rally and did write and speak about the rally after the fact but denied admitting to assaulting Nwanguma.
Though he also argued that the Trump protesters provoked the situation with "efforts to disrupt a free assembly ... and to infringe rights of the defendants" and that he, "acted, if at all, in self defense" or in defense of others.
He also said he "acted pursuant to the directives and requests" of Trump and his campaign and "any liability should be shifted to one or both of them."
Besides Trump and his campaign, the lawsuit names three other defendants— an unknown individual, Heimbach and Alvin Bamberger.
Bamberger filed a similar cross claim on Friday, arguing in court documents filed by his attorney that he acted at the urging of Trump.
"Bamberger had no prior intention to act as he did," wrote attorney Stephen Pence. "Bamberger would not have acted as he did without Trump and/or the Trump Campaign’s specific urging and inspiration."
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge David J. Hale said that then-candidate Trump incited the use of violence against three protesters when he told supporters at a campaign rally a year ago to "get 'em out of here."
Hale, of the Western District of Kentucky, also wrote in his opinion and order that allowed the suit to proceed that because violence had broken out at a prior Trump rally and that known hate group members were in the Louisville crowd, Trump's ordering the removal of an African-American woman was "particularly reckless."
Trump's attorneys have responded, saying that their client is protected from the lawsuit because — among other reasons — he is president of the United States. They also denied that his words, "get them out of here," were directed at the crowd.