“None of Brooks’s speech, including his remarks delivered at the January 6 Rally, satisfies the Brandenburg exception. The allegations against Brooks do not support a plausible inference that ‘he was advocating … any action’ or that ‘his words were intended to produce, and likely to produce, imminent disorder,’” Mehta wrote.
Mehta Motion to Dismiss Brooks by Daily Kos on Scribd
Similar claims launched against Trump Jr. and Giuliani were dismissed last month by Mehta as well, but the federal judge did reserve plaintiffs the right to sue the former president for incitement. Those lawsuits were left open, Mehta explained, because Trump’s loaded, falsehood-ridden speech at the Ellipse was beyond the bounds of his presidential duties and responsibilities and therefore not protected.
Brooks spent weeks in the runup to the attack proclaiming, falsely, that Donald Trump had won the 2020 election despite Trump’s defeat in the Electoral College and popularly. Brooks kept up the rhetoric even as Trump racked up a loss after loss in court, where he and his lawyers were unable to convince any judges—including the ones Trump appointed—to take up their phony crusade.
[Related: A social media field guide to lawmakers who pushed The Bie Lie before, on, after 1/6]
Brooks suggested on social media repeatedly that Democrats had stolen the election and a “criminal element” was at hand. He shared disinformation from Steve Bannon’s onetime pet project Breitbart.
Brooks was also in contact with conspiracy theory peddler and right-wing extremist darling Ali Alexander, who founded the “Stop the Steal” movement before Jan. 6.
Last year Alexander told investigators on the Jan. 6 committee that he exchanged texts with Brooks. Brooks first denied the interactions but then backpedaled, telling a reporter at a local outlet in Alabama that he did talk to Alexander but their exchange was “innocuous and forgettable.”
In a text Alexander sent to Brooks, he wrote:
“Congressman, this is Ali Alexander. I am the founder of Stop the Steal, the protests happening in all 50 states,” Alexander wrote in the text, shared by Brooks. “We met years ago back in 2010, during the tea party when you were first elected. I texted the wrong number. I had intended to invite you to our giant Saturday prayer rally in DC, this past weekend. Also Gen. (Michael) Flynn should be giving you a ring. We stand ready to help. Jan 6th is a big moment in our republic.”
Brooks pushed theories of missing ballots in Georgia—which was a hotbed of subversion tactics launched by the Trump campaign, records and testimony obtained by the Jan. 6 committee showed—and insisted on Twitter a week before the attack that the “fight was on” on Jan. 6 to object to Biden’s victory. Biden’s tally in the Electoral College had been official for two weeks when Brooks was still prompting his 116,000 followers on Twitter to support Trump’s bid to stay in the White House.
Civil rights attorney Andrew Laufer offered Daily Kos his thoughts about Mehta’s ruling:
“I don’t agree with the court’s ruling given the totality of circumstances surrounding his speech,” Laufer said Thursday. “Through that view, I believe Brooks’ speech was designed to directly foment violence and not merely be inflammatory [Brandenburg v. Ohio 395 U.S. 444 (1969)]. His words cannot be viewed in a void given what occurred thereafter.”
The ruling is a minor blow to House Democrats since it will undoubtedly give critics of the Jan. 6 investigation new fodder and new information about the insurrection itself.
Laufer mulled this over momentarily Thursday.
“Clown conflators will conflate,” he said.
Swalwell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Brooks was not available to comment to Daily Kos on Thursday.