Democratic National Committee sues Russia, WikiLeaks, and the Trump campaign over 2016 hack
The Democratic National Committee has accused the Russian Federation, the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks, the hacker Guccifer 2.0, and several others of engineering a conspiracy to leak damaging DNC data. A new lawsuit, which was reported earlier today by The Washington Post, claims its targets violated hacking and racketeering laws, in addition to infringing on copyright and misappropriating trade secrets. It’s a sweeping complaint that describes what the DNC calls “an act of previously unimaginable treachery” that “inflicted profound damage” on the organization.
The lawsuit alleges that during the 2016 presidential election, President Donald Trump’s campaign advisers “formed an agreement” with Russian agents to illegally promote Trump’s candidacy. Russian intelligence agents then provided WikiLeaks with hacked DNC documents, which were released just before the Democratic National Convention in July. In the process, they “undermined and distorted” the DNC’s ability to communicate to voters; “sowed discord within the Democratic Party;” and caused a sharp drop in donations, in part because donors were afraid of having private information leaked. It’s seeking financial damages for this harm, along with an admission of guilt to the conspiracy.
The DNC complaint delivers a familiar narrative, and some of its targets — like Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and campaign aide Richard Gates — have already been charged with other offenses as part of FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller is still probing possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, an investigation Trump has repeatedly called a “witch hunt.” But a Republican majority in the House of Representatives ended a similar congressional investigation, leaving Democratic lawmakers frustrated. This new lawsuit evokes a 1972 case the DNC filed against Richard Nixon’s campaign during the Watergate scandal — which ultimately ended in a settlement.