Two of the eight Trump supporters accused of participating in a “politically-motivated conspiracy” by closely following, honking at and slowing down a campaign bus for President Joe Biden on a Texas highway in the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election have settled with former state Sen. Wendy Davis and three others on the bus.
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs announced Thursday they have filed papers to dismiss Hannah Ceh and Kyle Kruger as defendants in the lawsuit. The case against the six other defendants remains pending.
The terms of the settlement were not made public, but the two issued formal apologies for their involvement in the “Trump Train,” according to a press release from Project Democracy, the lawyers representing the plaintiffs.
“Looking back, I would have done things differently. I do not feel that I was thinking things through at the time, and I apologize to the occupants of the bus for my part in actions that day that frightened or intimidated them,” Ceh wrote in her apology.
The plaintiffs, who also include a Biden campaign volunteer, a former campaign staffer and the bus driver, claimed in the lawsuit that Ceh, Kruger and six others violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and Texas law when they, along with dozens of people in trucks with Donald Trump flags, surrounded the bus as it drove up Interstate 35 from San Antonio to Austin, shouting and honking at the bus and successfully slowing it to a crawl in a deliberate attempt to intimidate supporters and disrupt the campaign.
“I knew that my driving was risky, but I wanted to express my opposition to their campaign and send them a message to leave my community,” Kruger added in his apology. “While I regret now participating in such risky activity, and apologize to the occupants of the bus for my part in the actions that day, at the time I and other Trump Train participants were happy that, after our actions, the Biden campaign canceled the rest of the bus tour.”
Two of the other defendants who have not settled, Steve and Randi Ceh, were leaders of the New Braunfels Trump Train, according to the filing. Ceh is their daughter and a member of the group.
The filing alleges that Kruger, who is engaged to Ceh according to her social media, was driving her white Toyota Tundra while she sat in the passenger seat. According to the filing, Ceh posted videos to social media that showed her license plate number, which matched the license plate of one of the cars that allegedly surrounded the bus. Screenshots of Instagram posts attached to the lawsuit show Ceh in the passenger’s seat with text on the image that says “#operationblockthebus.” The filing said the social media posts show Ceh and Kruger driving “within inches of the bus.”
At one point, the filing claims, Ceh told Kruger that she was “getting too nervous” and participating in the caravan was “stressing her out.”
“Nevertheless, Defendant Kruger continued to come close to the Biden-Harris Campaign bus and abruptly swerved next to it,” the filing read.
Davis and the other plaintiffs filed a second lawsuit against San Marcos police, alleging they turned a blind eye to the attack. 911 transcripts filed in that lawsuit revealed San Marcos police refused to send help despite repeated requests for those on the bus. That lawsuit is ongoing.
The lawsuit against the “Trump Train” participants remains ongoing against the six other plaintiffs. In March, federal judge John Pittman set a trial date for April 22, 2024.
See here for the previous update, and here for more about the San Marcos police. I have a copy of the press release from the Texas Civil Rights Project, which contains the full apology statements from the two settlers, beneath the fold. I have to say, while the one from Hannah Ceh seems fine and appropriate, the one from Kyle Kruger sounds awfully non-apologetic. It has at least as much about the objectives of the Trump Train and their satisfaction in chasing the Biden campaign buses out of town than anything contrite. Maybe the confidential part of the settlement makes up for that, and maybe the case against Kruger was the weakest, I don’t know. I’m hoping for better for the rest of the case. See below for the TCRP statement, which includes the two full apologies.
Hannah Ceh and Kyle Kruger, two of the eight defendants in the Cervini v. Cisneros case, have agreed to settle the suit brought against them for conspiring as part of a “Trump Train” convoy to harass and intimidate campaign workers on a Biden-Harris campaign bus in Texas shortly before the 2020 election. In light of the settlement, today plaintiffs filed papers to dismiss them from the suit.
The lawsuit was filed by Protect Democracy, the Texas Civil Rights Project, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher on behalf of four plaintiffs, who are seeking damages and a determination that the Trump Train convoy violated the campaign workers’ rights to advocate on behalf of their candidate in violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871—a law Congress passed to combat political violence and voter intimidation as part of elections.
The details of the settlement are confidential but include apologies from the defendants which are copied below.
“On October 30, 2020, I was a passenger in a truck driving as part of a ‘Trump Train’ on Interstate 35 Highway between Austin and San Antonio, Texas. I learned about the Trump Train group planning to meet ahead of time from social media and communicated through social media and text about when a Trump Train group would be meeting up to go after the Biden-Harris campaign bus as it drove through our community. While riding as a passenger in a truck that was participating in the Trump Train by driving closely to the Biden campaign bus, I took videos that I later posted to social media. In a post I used the hashtag ‘operation block the bus,’ which I felt at the time described how the Trump Train vehicles surrounded the Biden campaign bus while it drove down the highway. We continued to drive along with the other Trump Train vehicles surrounding the bus to Austin because we wanted to stay with the other members of our group as they drove. After the Biden campaign abandoned the rest of their bus tour I sent a text saying that ‘we canceled them,’ as at the time I felt we had succeeded in our efforts to send a message that the Biden campaign bus should not stop for any more events in Texas because it was not supported by our community or welcome in it. Looking back, I would have done things differently. I do not feel that I was thinking things through at the time, and I apologize to the occupants of the bus for my part in actions that day that frightened or intimidated them.” – Hannah Ceh
“On October 30, 2020, I drove in a group of vehicles in a ‘Trump Train’ on Interstate 35 Highway between Austin and San Antonio, Texas. I learned from social media and other participants where a Trump Train group planned to meet ahead of time to go after the Biden-Harris campaign bus as it drove through our part of Texas. I drove to that Trump Train gathering, where I found out from others when and where the bus was going to be. We intentionally drove close to the bus from New Braunfels to Austin to make sure we achieved our objective: that they got our message that we opposed what the Biden campaign stood for and that we did not want them in our community or our state. As part of my participation in the Trump Train, I drove in ways that posed some risk to the Biden campaign bus, its passengers, and others on the road. I knew that my driving was risky, but I wanted to express my opposition to their campaign and send them a message to leave my community. While I regret now participating in such risky activity, and apologize to the occupants of the bus for my part in the actions that day, at the time I and other Trump Train participants were happy that, after our actions, the Biden campaign canceled the rest of the bus tour.” – Kyle Kruger