Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) successfully served Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) with a lawsuit holding Brooks and other top Republicans “responsible for the injury and destruction” on Jan. 6 after initially failing to locate him – but Brooks alleged the server committed criminal trespassing, which Swalwell’s attorney denied.
Brooks said in a tweet Swalwell “FINALLY did his job, served complaint,” adding that it was given to his wife Martha and claiming Swalwell’s team “committed a CRIME” by “unlawfully sneaking INTO MY HOUSE & accosting my wife,” though he didn’t go into further detail.
Brooks also cited Alabama’s penalties for first degree criminal trespass, which is among the most common charges brought against Capitol rioters by the Department of Justice.
Swalwell attorney Philip Adonian told Forbes the allegation is “utterly false” and that the process server “did not enter the house,” adding that he “lawfully handed the papers to Mo Brooks’ wife at their home… which is perfectly legitimate under the federal rules.”
Brooks spokesperson Clay Mills told Forbes the Brooks’ filed a police report over the alleged incident, claiming “video proof” the server entered their home without consent and “refused to leave when Mrs. Brooks demanded.”
Swalwell, who filed the lawsuit in March in his personal capacity, hired a private investigator to find Brooks after he refused to waive a requirement that defendants be personally presented with a complaint, unlike fellow defendants former President Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani.
Swalwell’s team also sought and received a 60-day extension from a federal judge after failing to locate Brooks for several months, but the judge declined to use U.S. marshals to track him down over concerns about the separation between the legislative and judicial branches.
The lawsuit centers on speeches given by Brooks and the other defendants at a rally outside the White House shortly before the Capitol attack, which resulted in five deaths and hundreds of injuries. Brooks said in his speech, which was laced with baseless suggestions that the election was stolen, “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” which the lawsuit alleges was “highly inflammatory” and “intended… to be taken literally.”
“The important thing is the complaint has been served and Mo Brooks can now be held accountable for his role in inciting the deadly insurrection,” Andonian said. Such a lawsuit between two sitting members of Congress is extremely uncommon.
Trump’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the suit last month, arguing the former president has “absolute immunity” from legal liability for actions he committed while president – an argument that was largely rejected by the Supreme Court last year – and that Swalwell “lacks standing.”
In addition to paying attorneys fees and other monetary damages, Swalwell is seeking a requirement that the defendants provide him with “written notice” in advance of any large, D.C.-based rallies ahead of important election-related events to “prevent further violence or disruption to the proper functioning of the federal government.”