The Democratic National Committee on Friday accused the Russian Army, WikiLeaks, the Trump campaign and a dozen others of a sprawling racketeering conspiracy to hack emails and tamper with the 2016 election in a new lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court.
Although the lawsuit largely recycled and patched together well-worn accusations from news reports and had little new information, Democrats used it to repeat claims that they were victimized by a “brazen attack on American democracy.”
“During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement that called it an “act of unprecedented treachery.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller, after more than a year of investigation, has yet to confirm any claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The White House did not immediately respond to the lawsuit, but President Donald Trump has repeatedly denied accusations of collusion.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, in a statement, denounced the suit as a “sham” based on a “bogus” collusion claim and a publicity stunt.
“With the Democrats’ conspiracy theories against the President’s campaign evaporating as quickly as the failing DNC’s fundraising,” he said, “they’ve sunk to a new low to raise money.”
Trump wasn’t included as a defendant, but along with the Russian Federation, the Russian army general staff and alleged hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” the suit named WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Trump son Don Jr., and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, charged by Mueller with non-election crimes.
The Democrats also sued the “Donald Trump For President” campaign, describing it as a “racketeering enterprise” that willingly aided an ongoing Russian plan to hack both DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign emails as part of a plot to destabilize the United States and help Republican nominee Trump.
Although Mueller has not publicly substantiated any claims of collusion, U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed that Russia was behind the email hacks and said they were part of a broader plan to sow discord that turned into a pro-Trump effort.
“In the Trump campaign, Russia found a willing and active partner,” the lawsuit said. “ . . . Rather than report repeated messages that Russia intended to interfere with U.S. elections, the Trump campaign and its agents gleefully welcomed Russia’s help.”
The suit says Russia, WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign conspired to disseminate stolen information from the email hacks, and that releases of hacked material were strategically timed to supplement other news events. None of the U.S. news organizations that also disseminated the emails were sued.
Among other widely reported events woven together into the Democrats’s conspiracy theory: Trump Organization discussions about building an office tower in Moscow in 2015, a Russian emissary’s visit to Donald Trump Jr. to offer dirt on Hillary Clinton, and campaign positions Trump took seen as pro-Russian.
The lawsuit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees and a court declaration that all the defendants engaged in a common scheme to illegally hack computer systems and used stolen information to impact the election.
The suit, which asks for a jury trial, has not been assigned to a judge yet.
With Tom Brune