The Democratic Party is suing Russia, Donald Trump’s election campaign and WikiLeaks for conspiring to damage Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the 2016 presidential election.
Documents filed in New York federal court show Democrats have opened a fresh front in their campaign against President Donald Trump that could reveal fresh evidence of collusion between his team and Russian officials.
The 66-page lawsuit lays out the known facts about Russian meddling in the election and alleges that senior Trump aides conspired with Moscow and its military spy agency to tilt the outcome to Mr Trump as they hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) computers and released embarrassing information.
“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,” Tom Perez, DNC chairman, 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.”
Several of the defendants attended the infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower when aides met a Russian lawyer they had been told had information damaging to the Democratic candidate.
And it details how Donald Jr was offered a password to an anti-Trump website as he communicated with WikiLeaks, which had obtained hacked material.
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"Rather than report these repeated messages that Russia intended to interfere with US elections, the Trump campaign and its agents gleefully welcomed Russia’s help," says the suit.
"Indeed the Trump campaign solicited Russia’s illegal assistance, and maintained secret communications with individuals tied to the Russian government, including one of the intelligence agencies responsible for attacking the DNC."
In its submission, the Democratic Party claims the conspiracy chilled its relationship with voters, reduced incoming donations and disrupted its convention.
Mr Trump, whi has repeatedly denied that his campaign colluded with Russia, tweeted that the lawsuit "can be good news in that we will now counter."
Just heard the Campaign was sued by the Obstructionist Democrats. This can be good news in that we will now counter for the DNC Server that they refused to give to the FBI, the Debbie Wasserman Schultz Servers and Documents held by the Pakistani mystery man and Clinton Emails.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2018
However, US intelligence agencies believe senior Russian agents were involved in a campaign to undermine American democracy and skew the vote against Mrs Clinton by stealing information and spreading fake news.
The scandal has cast a long shadow over the White House and is under investigation by Robert Mueller, appointed special council by the Department of Justice, and Congress.
Robert Shapiro, professor of political science at Columbia University, said the suit kept the issue in the headlines as well as providing a degree of legal jeopardy for Mr Trump and his associates.
“Any kind of lawsuit can involve testimony, putting people under oath. The more people you put under oath the more chances you find someone lying under oath," he said.
“Then there’s the potential to get damages from this.”
By way of precedent, the DNC won a settlement of $750,000 from Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign after launching a suit following the 1972 break-in at the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate headquarters.
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