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Civil rights group the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has argued thats its suing of Donald Trump using the Ku Klux Klan Act – a historic law enacted to combat white supremacy – is in order to hold the former president accountable to Black voters that his Republican administration sought to invalidate.

The lawsuit alleges Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani sought to undermine the will of American voters by orchestrating a “series of events that unfolded [with] the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol” on 6 January in events that shocked the world.

“We could not stand by and not pursue a course of action to hold those accountable for their treasonous acts,” Derrick Johnson, president, told the Guardian in an interview, noting the act was designed for “the very incident the world witnessed on 6 January”.

Opponents have argued the twice-impeached Trump and his associates are still subject to civil and criminal penalties, including the Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell,who blamed Trump for the insurrection in a speech on the Senate floor shortly after voting to acquit him at his impeachment trial.

Accusing 43 Republicans senators who acquitted Trump of putting “partisanship over the constitution”, Johnson notes that in the past some civil judgements have still bankrupted hate groups or forced them and enablers to shut down.

Passed in 1871, the KKK Act originally sought to prevent violence and intimidation that members of Congress were subjected to carrying out their constitutional duties throughout the south during the Reconstruction era.

The NAACP is representing the Mississippi congressman Bennie Thompson in the suit but confirmed they expect more members to join. Founded in 1909, the group argues the KKK Act was designed to protect against election conspiracies peddled by Republicans.

“We settled these disagreements at the ballot box, but the former administration and Giuliani sought to disqualify our votes,” Johnson said, accusing Trump of “operating under a white supremacist doctrine that was a derived from days of the Confederacy”.

Read more of Kenya Evelyn’s report here: We’re suing to hold Trump accountable for ‘treasonous acts’, NAACP chief says

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