Members of a “Trump train” of drivers who chased down a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris campaign caravan on a Texas highway last year are being sued in federal court by the campaign workers they terrorized.
One complaint accuses the Trump supporters of violating the anti-Ku Klux Klan Act protecting voters from intimidation. A second complaint accuses the San Marcos Police Department of failing to protect the campaign bus and the cars accompanying it to campaign events in Texas, “despite repeated calls for help,” the suit notes.
Both complaints were filed Thursday in the Western District of Texas.
“We filed this lawsuit because everyone should be able to engage in peaceful political activity free from fear, intimidation, or threats of violence,” former Texas Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis — who was on the campaign bus when it was swarmed — said in a statement of the lawsuit against members of the Trump train. (Check out the video above.)
The plaintiffs — Davis, plus Harris’ White House director of operations, David Gins, former Biden campaign volunteer Eric Cervini and Biden campaign bus driver Timothy Holloway — are being represented by the nonprofit advocacy organization Protect Democracy, the Texas Civil Rights Project and the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
Last October, scores of Donald Trump supporters swarmed the Biden-Harris bus to box it in as their vehicles sped down busy Interstate 35 near Austin, Texas. One truck was filmed bumping a nearby Biden campaign car out of its lane. Some in the vehicle “displayed weapons,” while others “screamed death threats,” the lawsuit stated.
The Biden-Harris campaign subsequently canceled events in Austin and San Marcos because of safety fears.
Trump supporters “terrorized and menaced the driver and passengers on the Biden-Harris Campaign’s bus” for at least 90 minutes, according to the suit against the Trump train members.
“They played a madcap game of highway ‘chicken,’ coming within three to four inches of the bus,” the lawsuit added. “They tried to run the bus off the road.”
Citing the anti-KKK Act, passed by Congress in 1871 to prohibit the coordinated intimidation of voters to obstruct free and fair elections, the lawsuit seeks a court ruling that the Trump supporters’ actions violated the law.
“What Defendants cannot do under the law is use force, intimidation, or threats against those with whom they disagree politically. Yet that is precisely what Defendants did by conspiring to use their vehicles as weapons to interfere with the constitutional rights of those who supported the Biden-Harris Campaign,” the lawsuit states.
“The Constitution’s guarantee of free speech, association, and assembly is empty if those rights cannot be freely exercised. And where groups are permitted to terrorize those with whom they disagree into forgoing their constitutional rights, the functioning of our democracy demands accountability.”
In a video last year, a smirking Donald Trump Jr. encouraged his father’s supporters in Texas to “give Kamala Harris a nice Trump train welcome,” adding: “Have some fun.”
After the reckless stunt, then-President Donald Trump himself crowed in a tweet: “I LOVE TEXAS!” and called the Trump train drivers “patriots.” He boasted that the confrontation was trending on Twitter.
Protect Democracy counsel Cameron Kistler called the “mob of Trump supporters engaging in a preplanned vehicular assault” an “egregious example of using fear, intimidation, and threats of violence to silence political foes. This is exactly the type of behavior that the Klan Act was enacted to deter.”
Five people were named as defendants in the Trump train lawsuit, along with a Jane and John Doe. They could not immediately be reached for comment.
One of the drivers in the suit, Eliazar Cisnernos, boasted on Facebook after the confrontation that he was responsible for bumping the campaign car out of the lane. “That was me slamming that fucker ... hell yea,” he crowed in a since-deleted message.
Cisneros also reposted Trump’s “I LOVE TEXAS!” praise.
The black Ford F-150 pickup that collided with the Biden campaign car appears to be the same one Cisneros drove through a group of Black Lives Matter protesters in San Antonio earlier last year.
The suit also accuses the Trump train drivers of engaging in civil assault, “intentionally and/or knowingly” threatening the plaintiffs “with imminent bodily injury by engaging in aggressive, dangerous, and reckless driving that put Plaintiffs and others on I-35 in physical danger.”
None of the drivers have yet been charged with a criminal offense for the highway confrontation.
The suit says some of the same people who planned the Trump train chase were in Washington, D.C., the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection and that some rioted in the Capitol.
San Marcos police barely responded to the dangerous highway confrontation. Texas law enforcement authorities told Biden campaign workers on the bus who desperately phoned for help that they would take no action unless criminal charges were filed, according to the suit.
Multiple videos show that local authorities ignored apparently serious moving violations, including Trump train vehicles following other vehicles too closely on a highway, swerving directly in front of the bus and bumping a car into another lane at full speed.
“Defendants had every opportunity to discharge their duty under federal law and come to Plaintiffs’ aid. But they didn’t,” stated the complaint against San Marcos police officials. “For Defendants — located in areas that have witnessed political terror of the type Congress sought to prevent under the Klan Act — this failure to exercise reasonable care is a betrayal of the very laws they swore to uphold.”
The FBI is continuing to investigate the Trump train chase.