Ties between the Trump campaign and Russian government interests have been well documented at this point; the remaining questions, outside of plumbing the exact depths of those ties, largely have to do with legal accountability. It’s been established, for instance, that the president’s son-in-law, son, and then-campaign manager met with a Russian lawyer in 2016 under the assumption they were going to get Russian government-sourced dirt on Hillary Clinton. The ramifications of that, though, are still being worked out.
In the meantime, the Democratic National Committee has decided to take matters into its own hands. No doubt sick of the president attempting to undercut the Russia investigation and cognizant ahead of this year’s midterms of the many voters who want to see the president and his allies held accountable, the DNC filed a massive lawsuit Friday seeking millions of dollars in damages over the alleged conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Speaking of the case, DNC Chairman Tom Perez commented:
‘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. 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’s quest for damages stems from their stated inability to operate effectively in the wake of Russian intrusion into their computer systems due in part to death threats lobbed at DNC employees. Although normally foreign governments are exempt from U.S. lawsuits, the DNC — via the law firm Cohen Milstein — argued that the normal protections were inapplicable because Russia trespassed onto their private property in the form of their computer systems in order to “steal trade secrets and commit economic espionage.”
The DNC chose to leave the president out of their list of defendants in the lawsuit, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t include a vast cast of other characters. Named as defendants are everyone from the father and son team Emin and Aras Agalarov to longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, who seemed at times to be in on the operations of Wikileaks, which disseminated the emails Russia stole from the Democrats.
Although the suit is obviously far reaching, there is actually a precedent for the legal action, as The Washington Post notes. Back in 1974, the DNC successfully garnered a $750,000 settlement from the Richard Nixon campaign after it orchestrated a break-in at Democratic headquarters.
Although there is a precedent for the party’s quest to be compensated for damages, the party is also after an admission of guilt on the part of the defendants, something that no doubt would prove at least initially hard to come by.
This time around — as was the case for a time back in the 70’s — the president has maintained his innocence. He has gone so far, as he did in a recent tweet, to assert that the real culprits in the hunt for collusion with Russia are the Democrats.
Part of his reasoning for that claim is the fact that Democrats helped fund opposition research on him that produced many of the claims against him of collusion; other related items that he’s cited in the past include the debunked claim that Hillary Clinton orchestrated a corrupt sale of U.S. uranium to Russian interests.
Featured Image via NICHOLAS KAMM/ AFP/ Getty Images