WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/CNN) – The Democratic National Committee has filed a lawsuit naming the Trump campaign, Russia, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and several associates of President Donald Trump.
The suit claims they were involved in a grand racketeering, hacking and fraudulent conspiracy that harmed Democrats through WikiLeaks’ publication of internal party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Those named in the lawsuit include several top Trump advisers who attended the now-infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and others.
The 66-page lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court on Friday lays out how the Trumps curried favor in Russia through their family business, and then Russia allegedly worked with Trump advisers before the presidential election to disseminate the spoils from a cyberattack of the DNC.
The Democratic Party says the conspiracy and the hacking hurt their relationship with voters, chilled donations, disrupted their political convention and subjected their staffers to harassment. The lawsuit outlines nearly every known communication between Trump advisers and Russians.
The Washington Post first reported the lawsuit.
Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last year to investigate Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. As part of that mandate, Mueller is empowered to investigate any links between the Russian government and Trump campaign associates.
The US intelligence community has concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered “an influence campaign” in 2016 with the goal of undermining public confidence in the US democratic process and eroding Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency.
Trump, however, has repeatedly insisted that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians, and has denounced the special counsel investigation as a “witch hunt.”
In the summer of 2016, the Democratic National Committee went public with claims that Russians hackers had gained access to their computer systems, obtaining emails and opposition research against Trump.
Then, just days before the Democratic National Convention when Clinton was set to receive the party’s presidential nomination, WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of hacked DNC emails.
The release of the emails, which included messages disparaging Bernie Sanders, threw the Democratic Party into turmoil at a moment when the party was supposed to be coming together in support of a nominee and intensified in-fighting between supporters of Clinton and Sanders.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who was head of the DNC at the time, issued this statement in response to the lawsuit:
“The Democratic National Committee was the first major target of the Russian attack on our democracy, and I strongly believe that every individual who helped carry it out — foreign or domestic — should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” she said.
The Trump campaign responded Friday by calling it a “frivolous lawsuit” which is “completely without merit.”
“This is a sham lawsuit about a bogus Russian collusion claim filed by a desperate, dysfunctional, and nearly insolvent Democratic Party,” said Brad Parscale, Campaign Manager of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. “With the Democrats’ conspiracy theories against the President’s campaign evaporating as quickly as the failing DNC’s fundraising, they’ve sunk to a new low to raise money, especially among small donors who have abandoned them. There is a great deal the American public wants to know about the corruption of the Democrats, their collusion to influence the 2016 presidential election, and their role in prompting a scam investigation of the Trump Campaign. While this lawsuit is frivolous and will be dismissed, if the case goes forward, the DNC has created an opportunity for us to take aggressive discovery into their claims of ‘damages’ and uncover their acts of corruption for the American people,” he concluded.
“If this lawsuit proceeds, the Trump Campaign will be prepared to leverage the discovery process and explore the DNC’s now-secret records about the actual corruption they perpetrated to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Everything will be on the table, including:
- How the DNC contributed to the fake dossier, using Fusion GPS along with the Clinton Campaign as the basis for the launch of a phony investigation.
- Why the FBI was never allowed access to the DNC servers in the course of their investigation into the Clinton e-mail scandal.
- How the DNC conspired to hand Hillary Clinton the nomination over Bernie Sanders.
- How officials at the highest levels of the DNC colluded with the news media to influence the outcome of the DNC nomination.
- Management decisions by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Donna Brazile, Tom Perez, and John Podesta; their e-mails, personnel decisions, budgets, opposition research, and more.
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