The Democratic National Committee (DNC) filed suit against the Russian government, the Trump campaign, and WikiLeaks Friday, alleging that the parties unlawfully conspired to swing the 2016 presidential election away from Hillary Clinton.
The complaint, filed in federal court in Manhattan, claims that senior Trump campaign officials conspired with the military-intelligence branch of the Russian government to damage Clinton by hacking the DNC’s computer networks and disseminating the resulting stolen information through WikiLeaks.
“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. “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 suit accuses the Russian government of breaching international law by hacking the DNC’s computer networks — a breach that resulted in the leak of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails. The DNC argued that Russia is not entitled to international immunity because “the DNC claims arise out of Russia’s trespass on to the DNC’s private servers . . . in order to steal trade secrets and commit economic espionage.”
According to the suit, which asks for millions in damages, the Trump campaign “gleefully welcomed Russia’s help,” and utilized pre-existing relationships with powerful Russian oligarchs to ensure the leaked information would do maximum damage.
Trump is not named as a defendant in the suit. The DNC instead to chose to target numerous Trump aides who met with people representing themselves as affiliated with the Russian government, including Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates.
Manafort and Gates have been charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller with money laundering, tax evasion, and fraud, among other crimes. Gates pled guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI and is cooperating with Mueller’s team, which is still in the process of determining whether anyone from the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin. Manafort pled not guilty and continues to fight the charges in court.