’An act of unprecedented treachery’: Democratic Party sues Trump election campaign for ‘gleefully welcoming Russia’s help’ in 2016 elections
If the suit goes ahead, the Democrats’ lawyers could force defendants to produce documents bearing on the collusion issue
The Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against Russia, US President Donald Trump’s campaign and WikiLeaks on Friday, charging that they conspired to disrupt the 2016 US presidential election campaign in “an act of unprecedented treachery”, a court filing showed.
If it goes ahead, the suit could force Trump’s election staff to answer questions under oath about campaign activities, and such evidence could be made public in court filings and at a trial – in contrast to information obtained through Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference, which may not be publicly disclosed.
“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,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.
“This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for president of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency.”
The party alleges in the suit, filed in a federal court in Manhattan, that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and tilt the election to Trump by hacking Democratic National Committee computers.
The suit seeks unspecified damages, along with a declaration that the Trump campaign, Russia and WikiLeaks conspired to steal information.
The committee accuses Russian intelligence of hacking into its computers, penetrating its telephone systems and gaining access of tens of thousands of documents and emails.
The Russians then used the information, which was disseminated in part by WikiLeaks, to destabilise the US political environment, denigrate Clinton and support Trump, according to the complaint.
They found a “willing and active partner” in the Trump campaign, whose agents “gleefully welcomed Russia’s help”, sought its illegal assistance and secretly communicated with individuals tied to the Russian government, the complaint says.
“As stolen DNC information was strategically released into the public sphere, then-candidate Trump openly praised the illegal disseminations and encouraged Russia to continue its violations of US law through its ongoing hacking campaign against the Democratic Party,” the committee said.
The lawsuit, should it go forward, seems likely to help keep the spotlight on the issue of Russia when election interference and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, both of which are being investigated by Mueller.
Through the process of legal discovery, lawyers for the Democratic National Committee could also force the defendants to produce documents bearing on the collusion issue.
The lawsuit also names Donald Trump Jnr, Trump associate Roger Stone and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as defendants.
The White House and the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Trump has repeatedly denied that his campaign colluded with Russia, and Russia has denied meddling in the election.