Democrats may be gearing up for the 2018 midterms, but they're still not over 2016. In fact, they’re going to court over it and officially accusing the Trump campaign of engaging in a “conspiracy” with the Russian government and WikiLeaks.
On Friday, the Democratic National Committee filed a civil lawsuit in a Manhattan federal court demanding millions of dollars for the cyberattack it suffered during the campaign that led to thousands of internal emails being published on WikiLeaks.
“In 2015 and 2016, Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC’s computers, penetrated its phone systems, and exfiltrated tens of thousands of documents and emails,” the DNC’s complaint reads. “Russia then used this stolen information to advance its own interests: destabilizing the U.S. political environment, denigrating the Democratic presidential nominee, and supporting the campaign of Donald J. Trump, whose policies would benefit the Kremlin.”
The DNC also accuses the Trump campaign of being a “willing and active partner” in Russia’s efforts to undermine the democratic process. The complaint cites information already in the public domain, such as the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 between senior campaign staffers and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who allegedly promised dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The complaint does not accuse Trump himself of engaging in the conspiracy. Instead it focuses on senior campaign aides, including campaign manager Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and even Donald Trump Jr.
The president and his campaign team have denied any sort of collaboration with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign. “NO COLLUSION,” the president has tweeted and stated multiple times.
Thousands of emails extracted from the DNC servers were later published by WikiLeaks and led to a series of damaging stories about the party’s internal resistance to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Those revelations ultimately led to the resignation of Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The complaint says that such disclosures “inflicted profound damage upon the DNC” by sowing “discord within the Democratic Party at a time when party unity was essential to electoral success.” The party also alleges that they saw a dramatic drop in donations as a result of the published emails.
It’s not clear how effective the lawsuit will be or if a judge will allow it to move forward. Nations are immune from most U.S. lawsuits, but the DNC argues that Russia is not entitled to such immunity because it committed a form of “economic espionage” and stole “trade secrets.”
Cover image: In this Sept. 26, 2016 file photo, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the U.S. presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)