The Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit in federal court on Friday alleging a conspiracy between the Russian government, the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0, the Trump campaign, and WikiLeaks to influence the 2016 presidential election. The lawsuit claims that Trump’s pre-existing relationship with Russia led to a plot to help him win the White House, using stolen DNC records that were published by WikiLeaks, but it doesn’t exactly explain how it all supposedly went down. Here are the main takeaways of the lawsuit. Read the full complaint below.
1. Major allegations against Russia and WikiLeaks. The Trump campaign? Not so much.
The 54-page complaint (66 with footnotes) kicks off by claiming that “individuals tied to the Kremlin” told the Trump campaign in 2016 that Russia had intentions to “interfere with our democracy,” and were “prepared to use stolen emails and other information” to hurt the Democratic nominee. The DNC claims that Trump’s campaign “gleefully” accepted the offer. This is basically the theme for the entire lawsuit. The lawsuit details alleged illegal activities by Russian operatives in the form of hacks, WikiLeaks’ role in publishing hacked emails, but it does not make clear what the campaign’s role was in those acts. It only describes how the Trump campaign readily benefited from these activities.
There are claims that the Trump campaign committed RICO and Wiretap Act violations, claiming that the campaign itself was a racketeering enterprise. It alleges that various Trump associates, WikiLeaks, and Julian Assange “directed, induced, urged, and/or encouraged Russia and the GRU ” to commit illegal acts for the purpose of helping Trump’s campaign. Still, there is no evidence of what the campaign’s role was.
Indeed, half of the counts in the complaint are not against the Trump campaign or Trump’s associates, just Russia and foreign actors.
2. It’s all somehow connected to Trump’s real estate aspirations in Moscow
The lawsuit first claims that the conspiracy began in 2016, but then says it really began before then, when Trump signed a letter of intent to develop real estate in Moscow. A Russian business partner of Trump’s, Felix Sater (who has reportedly been connected to Russian organized crime), allegedly told Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, that he would get Vladimir Putin behind the project, which would somehow increase Trump’s chances of winning the election. The lawsuit does not explain how that would work.
3. A list of events without connecting the dots
The lawsuit reads like a summary of all Trump-Russia-DNC news from the past few years, without actually explaining how it reveals anything illegal. It lists Russian email hacks of the DNC and John Podesta, discusses known communications between Trump campaign members like Donald Trump Jr. and George Papadopoulos with Russian individuals, and talks about how the Trump campaign softened language in the GOP platform by removing anti-Russia language. What it doesn’t do is explain the relationship between any of these.
4. Roger Stone allegedly knew more than he should have
The complaint refers to Roger Stone’s claims that he had been in touch with both Guccifer 2.0 and Julian Assange. It also claims that Stone predicted certain developments regarding hacked emails before there was public disclosure of the hacking. The complaint doesn’t say what role Stone may or may not have had in the hacks or subsequent publication of the emails, it only implies that he knew of them in advance.
5. The strongest evidence against the campaign was that they acted guilty
The main evidence of guilt that the lawsuit provides regarding the Trump campaign is based on the claim that people within the campaign lied about their activities after the fact.
The lawsuit lists instances where people connected to the Trump campaign, including Kellyanne Conway, Hope Hicks, Donald Trump Jr., George Papadopoulos, and Paul Manafort denied having any ties to Russia, when this was later found to be false.
Evidence of suspicious behavior is certainly valid to establish consciousness of guilt, but it usually helps to also have evidence of actual illegal acts.
6. DNC claims a wide variety of damage
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for a wide variety of alleged harms. These include damage as a result of the loss of trade secrets, damage to the DNC’s physical computers and servers, and harm done to the relationship between the DNC and voters. It also lists instances where DNC employees suffered harm in the form of personal threats made against them and their families after DNC emails were published.
On top of all this, there’s one glaring absence from the lawsuit: President Trump. Perhaps surprisingly, a lawsuit that alleges a massive conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, that allegedly stemmed from Trump’s business aspirations, does not make any allegations against Trump himself.
DNC v Russia Complaint on Scribd
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