White Nationalist Blames Trump's Incitement for Assault on Protester at Campaign Rally

In a lawsuit, Matthew Heimbach says he acted 'pursuant to the directives and requests' of the candidate and his campaign

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Louisville, Kentucky, March 1, 2016.
John Bazemore/AP

A white nationalist supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump is claiming that his attack on protesters during a campaign rally last year stemmed from incitement by the candidate himself.

In a federal suit filed Monday, Matthew Heimbach says he "acted pursuant to the directives and requests of Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump for President," Politico reported.

Heimbach's suit refers to a rally in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2016, at which several protesters were allegedly shoved and thrown out by Trump supporters. The scuffle reportedly took place after Trump demanded from the stage that someone "get 'em out of here."

A video from the event shows a black woman repeatedly pushed by a man later identified as Heimbach. The woman, Kashiya Nwanguma, and two other protesters sued Heimbach, two other Trump supporters, the campaign and Trump himself for assault and battery. The suit also accused Trump of inciting his supporters.

Heimbach's countersuit claims that since the directives for his actions came from Trump and his campaign, "any liability must be shifted to one or both of them." He adds that he "acted, if at all, in self-defense."

In the court filing, Heimbach confirmed his affiliation with the Traditionalist Worker Party, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a white nationalist group advocating for "racially pure nations" that "blames Jews for many of the world's problems."

Last year, The Washington Post called him a leader of the group. He is representing himself in the case.

According to Politico, the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.