Election 2016

Democrats Sue Trump Campaign, Russian Government, and WikiLeaks

The suit claims a RICO conspiracy and demands millions.


Trump nomination

The Democratic National Committee is filing a massive lawsuit against the Russian government, President Donald Trump's campaign, and WikiLeaks, alleging a conspiracy to disrupt the presidential election in Trump's favor.

Trump himself is not being sued, though his campaign, his son Don Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his associates Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and George Papadopoulos are, along with many others. The complaint was filed today in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

And what a doozy of a lawsuit it is. It claims violations of everything from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to the Wiretap Act to the Stored Communications Act, plus two racketeering violations, a.k.a. RICO claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the favorite law of conspiracy theorists.

To attempt to summarize the 66-page lawsuit is to attempt to summarize two years of accusations about the relationship between the Russian government and people surrounding Trump. The lawsuit accuses Russia of infiltrating the DNC's cybersecurity, stealing data and communications, and then offering them to help Trump's campaign, sometimes with WikilLeaks as a go-between.

The DNC claims that this conspiracy "undermined and distorted the DNC's ability to communicate the party's values and vision to the American electorate; sowed discord within the Democratic Party at a time when party unity was essential to electoral success; and seriously compromised the DNC's internal and external communications." This seems like the appropriate spot to remind folks that some of the leaked emails showed the DNC treating presidential candidate Bernie Sanders like gum stuck on the bottom of their collective shoes. It "sowed discord" in the sense that it showed Democrats that their party's leadership had already taken sides and lined up behind Hillary Clinton.

The organization claims that it saw a drop in donations and that it paid more than $1 million to repair the cybersecurity damage. The DNC is seeking millions of dollars from the defendants, plus acknowledgment of the conspiracy.

There's a bit of a tightrope to walk when it comes to judging the merits of the case. The DNC absolutely should use the courts to seek redress from whoever infiltrated their systems and stole their data. It is absolutely a violation of their privacy and property, just as it would be if people were to break into your home and take your stuff. Step back from the political partisanship and the roiled-up outrage, and you'll see that the DNC does at least have a legitimate case against the individuals who hacked the party and then distributed the data they found.

But then, of course, politics gets involved and the rest of this goes bonkers. After all this time, the DNC still appear unwilling to contend with the reality that the party pushed forward an unappealing candidate with a privileged, condescending attitude and an unearned sense that she was entitled to the presidency. It was Clinton who drove people away from the polls, not a vast plot hatched in Moscow. Heck, millions of people who did cast votes that November ignored the presidential race entirely.

I won't dismiss the idea that people in the Trump campaign may have been more than happy to get sketchy and potentially illegal help from the Russians. But it really does the DNC no good to act as though they played no role in their own failure.

Besides, you know who else really wanted to see Donald Trump become the Republican candidate? Clinton's own campaign.

Read the DNC lawsuit here.