Democrats Sue Trump Campaign, Russia, And Wikileaks Over 2016 Campaign

The Democratic National Committee has filed a lawsuit alleging a wide-ranging conspiracy to influence the 2016 election. As a legal document, it appears to be little more than a political stunt.

The Democratic National Committee has filed a wide-ranging lawsuit against the Trump campaign, Wikileaks, and a number of Russian individuals and organizations alleging a conspiracy to fix the 2016 Presidential election:

The Democratic National Committee opened a surprise legal assault on President Trump on Friday, filing a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the organization was the victim of a conspiracy by Russian officials, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential run.

The 66-page complaint, filed in federal court in New York, uses the publicly known facts of the investigation into Russia’s election meddling to accuse Mr. Trump’s associates of illegally working with Russian intelligence agents to interfere with the outcome of the election. In the document, the committee accuses Republicans and the Russians of “an act of previously unimaginable treachery.”

The sweeping lawsuit startled Republicans in Washington as well as Democratic leaders, who were only briefed at the last minute about the D.N.C.’s plans to pursue civil litigation. Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic Party, said the committee had alerted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrats in Congress, “when we were about to file.”

But Mr. Perez said in an interview the lawsuit had been taking shape for months, and recalled facing demands as early as the winter of 2017 to file suit against Mr. Trump for allegedly abetting foreign interference in an American election. He said he had instructed the committee to investigate that possibility, eventually engaging a plaintiffs’ law firm, Cohen Milstein, to assemble the complaint filed on Friday.

While there are multiple ongoing investigations of Mr. Trump and his campaign, most significantly by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, Mr. Perez said the D.N.C. decided to move ahead with a civil suit because the committee believed there was an ongoing threat of foreign interference in American elections and it was unclear when Mr. Mueller’s probe might conclude. And certain claims in the lawsuit, he said, face statutory expiration dates.

“I don’t know when Mueller will finish,” Mr. Perez said. “I’m very concerned about the run-up to the midterm elections.”

Mr. Perez firmly denied that the lawsuit had a political purpose, but he appeared to allude at points to the possibility that civil litigation might bring to light damaging information about Mr. Trump and his associates.

The complaint is largely based on information that has previously been disclosed in news reports and subsequent court proceedings. But if the lawsuit proceeds, the president and his campaign aides could be forced to disclose documents and submit to depositions that require them to answer questions under oath.

To reach the discovery stage, lawsuits have to survive any motion to dismiss the litigation by the defendants.

Mr. Perez suggested, for instance, that Mr. Trump’s tax returns would reveal “shady conduct” if they were ever made public. Asked if part of the lawsuit’s aim was to force such disclosures, Mr. Perez demurred: “I haven’t given that any thought.”

White House officials, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee did not immediately comment on the lawsuit. Roger J. Stone Jr., a former campaign adviser to Mr. Trump who is named as a defendant in the suit, dismissed it in an email as “a left-wing conspiracy theory dressed up as a lawsuit” and “a fund-raising ploy.”

In a statement forwarded by Mr. Stone, Rob Buschel, Mr. Stone’s lawyer, said he had not yet been served with the D.N.C. suit and described it as a “regurgitation” of a complaint filed last year by Democrats alleging their privacy was invaded during the campaign. That litigation is still in progress.

“Roger Stone did not conspire, collude, or take part in any action to subvert the electoral process,” the statement said. “Sadly, these meritless lawsuits against Roger Stone will not be an effective form of therapy for loss the D.N.C. suffered in 2016.”

The Democrats’ legal maneuver comes amid a swirl of intensifying scrutiny of Mr. Trump, his associates and their interactions with Russia. The president, who has long denied allegations of collusion, has repeatedly attacked the special counsel probe this week and has vented angrily about renewed claims by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, that Mr. Trump sought to influence the bureau’s review of the election.

Mr. Trump added Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, and two other lawyers to his legal team this week. And on Thursday night, Mr. Trump thundered on social media that there was “NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION,” and again branded the whole Russia investigation as a “witch hunt.”

The Democrats’ lawsuit may agitate the president further. Their complaint is broad in its claims and stark in its language, naming a long list of defendants that includes Mr. Trump; his son, Donald Jr., and son-in-law, Jared Kushner; the Russian government and its intelligence service; and a group of former campaign aides including Mr. Stone, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos.

There is substantial overlap between the targets of the D.N.C. lawsuit and the group of people known to be under investigation by Mr. Mueller. Mr. Manafort has been indicted by the special counsel, while Mr. Gates and Mr. Papadopoulos have both pleaded guilty to different charges.

The Democrats accused Mr. Trump’s campaign of being “a racketeering enterprise” that worked with the Russians and WikiLeaks in a conspiracy that included hacking email servers at the D.N.C. and leaking damaging information to the public. The Trump campaign had extensive warnings of the Russians’ activities and intentions, the Democrats allege, embraced the meddling of a foreign power.

“Rather than report these repeated messages that Russia intended to interfere with U.S. elections, the Trump campaign and its agents gleefully welcomed Russia’s help,” the lawsuit said. “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 D.N.C.”

The lawsuit demands monetary damages and a declaration that the defendants conspired to alter the course of the election.

Mr. Perez said that the party had not worked on the lawsuit with Democratic leaders on the intelligence committees in the House and Senate, who are probing contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia through legislative investigations.

He also waved off a suggestion that the suit might help draw in donations to the Democratic Party. “This isn’t a fund-raising tool,” Mr. Perez said. “This is a search for justice.”

As The Washington Post explains, the lawsuit does not name President Trump directly as a Defendant, but it does target a number of people involved in his campaign:

The suit does not name Trump as a defendant. Instead, it targets various Trump aides who met with people believed to be affiliated with Russia during the campaign, including the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, his campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates.

Manafort and Gates were charged with money-laundering, fraud and tax evasion in a case brought by special prosecutors last year. In February, Gates pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI and is cooperating with investigators. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

The DNC lawsuit also names as a defendant the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU, which has been accused by the U.S. government of orchestrating the hacks, as well as WikiLeaks, which published the DNC’s stolen emails, and the group’s founder Julian Assange.

The White House, the Russian Embassy, WikiLeaks and Assange had no immediate comment on Friday. A Manafort spokesman declined comment.

The lawsuit was also filed against Roger Stone, the longtime Trump confidante who claimed during the campaign that he was in contact with Assange.

The Trump advisers and associates have denied assisting Russia in its hacking campaign. Stone has denied any communication with Assange or advance knowledge of the document dumps by WikiLeaks, saying his comments about Assange were jokes or exaggerations.

The DNC lawsuit argues that the Russian government and the GRU violated a series of laws by orchestrating the secret intrusion into the Democrats’ computer systems, including statutes to protect trade secrets, prohibit wire tapping and prevent trespassing.

The party said the Trump defendants committed conspiracy through their interaction with Russian agents and their public encouragement of the hacking, with the campaign itself acting as a racketeering enterprise promoting illegal activity.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the party by the law firm of Cohen Milstein.

The suit contains previously undisclosed details, including that the specific date when it is believed theRussians breached the DNC computer system: July 27, 2015, according to forensic evidence cited in the filing.

The analysis shows the system was breached again on April 18, 2016. The first signs that hackers were siphoning documents and information from DNC systems on April 22. The suit notes that four days later, Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was informed by Josef Mifsud, a London-based professor, that the Russians were in possession of thousands of emails that could be damaging to Clinton.

While unusual, a lawsuit of this type is not entirely unprecedented in that it has some similarity to a similar lawsuit that was filed during the height of the Watergate scandal. In that case, the DNC filed a lawsuit in 1972 against the Nixon campaign seeking damages related to the burglary at DNC headquarters in the Watergate complex. While the Nixon campaign fended off the lawsuit for the remaining two years of his Administration, the tactic proved to be at least somewhat successful in that it led to a settlement reached on the day that Nixon resigned in 1974 that resulted in his campaign paying the DNC $750,000 to settle the case. That being said, to say that this lawsuit is unique and unusual is something of an understatement and its far from clear that it will survive preliminary motions to dismiss the case never mind reach a state where DNC attorneys would be able to conduct pre-trial discovery against the Defendants and any relevant witnesses.

Notwithstanding this history, though, it’s hard to see this lawsuit as anything other than a blatantly political move on the part of Democrats designed to appease its own base, increase the legal pressures on the President and the Administration, and to attempt to rally the opposition to the President as we get closer to the midterm elections. Looking at it from a legal point of view, the Complaint alleges in its 66 pages, 233 numbered paragraphs, and 12 causes of action what essentially amounts to a conspiracy between Russia, certain Russian individuals and companies, Wikileaks, and people close to Donald Trump including Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos, and Jared Kushner to gather and disseminate information detrimental to Hillary Clinton campaign and leak them to the media for the benefit of the Trump campaign. The claims themselves include charges of wire and computer fraud, conspiracy, and other claims arising under both Federal and state law. Additionally, the Complaint asserts a civil claim based on the Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act between and among the parties stemming from these actions.

The factual basis for the lawsuit should be familiar to anyone who has been following the Russia investigation even on a limited level. Pretty much every fact that has come out in the media, including the social media campaign that was at the center of Special Counsel Mueller’s indictment earlier this year of more than a dozen Russian individuals and companies, the hacking of the server of the Democratic National Committee and the email of Clinton confidante Anthony Podesta, the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and several people at the top levels of the Trump campaign, the leaking of emails from the DNC and Podesta that often seemed to be specifically timed with important campaign events such as the release of the Access Hollywood tape, and other allegations. If nothing else, if you’re looking for a summary of all the bad news for the President that has come out over the past year related to the Russia investigation then you can get pretty quickly caught up by reading through the first 145 paragraphs of the Complaint.

In the end, though, that’s all this Complaint really amounts to, a bunch of allegations, many of which we already knew about, without the allegation of any definitive proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and either Russia or  Wikileaks. As a legal matter, of course, the DNC is not required to lay out its entire case in the Complaint, but we already know from what’s in the news that there as yet no such definitive proof of the kind of collusion and coordination that the central legal claims of the Complaint depend on. Additionally, at the very least, a Plaintiff is required to allege sufficient facts to support its claims, and the Complaint strikes me as being particularly weak in this regard when it comes to connecting all of the dots of its allegations and tieing them together with factual allegations that could prove some kind of collusion. This, no doubt will be the focus of the initial response to the Complaint by the Defendants, or at least those that choose to respond to it. It’s unlikely, for example, that defendants such as the Russian Federation itself or the Russian individuals and companies will even bother to respond to the allegations or hire attorneys to make an appearance on their behalf in the litigation. The majority of the legal pushback, then, will come from the American Defendants to the lawsuit, and they will likely concentrate their initial responses on legal efforts to get the case dismissed before it can get anywhere near the pretrial discovery stage that Democrats are no doubt aiming for here since that would allow them to do things like deposing former Trump campaign officials and subpoena documents such as the President’s long-sought tax returns.

Not every Democratic elected official is behind this lawsuit. Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California called it “ill-conceived” in a cable news appearance yesterday, for example:

“I actually think this lawsuit is ill-conceived, and I’m not very supportive of it,” Speier said Friday. “I think we have a very serious criminal activity underway in this country by the Russians and possibly by those within the Trump campaign and to make this political is actually the wrong thing to be doing.”

“I’m not interested in a political tit-for-tat — I’m interested in getting to the truth, and if there is criminal conduct, holding people accountable,” she added.

(…)

“I think the interest in coordinating a conspiracy is something that we have been delving into, we are continuing to delve into it,” she continued. “I certainly think that Bob Mueller and the special counsel office has much more information than we have. And we will know soon enough. But I think this sidebar lawsuit is not in the interest of the American people.”

On the other side of the Capitol Building, Missouri Senator Clarie McCaskill, who faces re-election this year, called it a “silly distraction.” CNN’s chief political analyst Gloria Borger, meanwhile, called the entire thing a political stunt:

CNN’s chief political analyst Gloria Borger said on Friday the Democratic National Party’s lawsuit against Russia, the Trump campaign and Wikileaks is a “100% stunt” designed to “raise money.”

“They want to get in the act, they want to keep the story moving,” she said, speaking to host Brooke Baldwin about the newly-announced lawsuit regarding the 2016 election. “This is nothing new. Everyone has been — every Democrat, political Democrat has been charging that the Trump campaign was in collusion with Wikileaks, et cetera, et cetera.”

(…)

Borger believed the suit’s main and singular function was to help Democrats continue raising money ahead of the upcoming 2018 election.

“Honestly, it’s just a way to raise money,” she continued. “The Democrats haven’t been having trouble raising money. They’re raising gobs of money for their candidates this time around. I think this is just one more way to get into the act here. And continue what they’ve been doing all along.”

The truth behind the criticism of Speier and McCaskill and the analysis by Borger seems to me to be bolstered by this comment that DNC Chairman Tom Perez during the press conference announcing the lawsuit yesterday:

“I don’t know when Mueller will finish,” Mr. Perez said. “I’m very concerned about the run-up to the midterm elections.”

This seems to me to be a tacit admission by Perez that the lawsuit’s motivation is, in the end, political rather than legal. From a legal point of view, that could prove to be problematic in the pre-trial stages of the coming litigation when the Defendants will be seeking to have the Complaint dismissed for, among other grounds, failing to make claims upon which relief can be granted and failing to allege sufficient facts to support the conclusions the Complaint reaches. As I noted above, the Complaint is heavy with allegations but entirely lacking in proof regarding any real collusion between and among the parties in question. Obviously, there are a lot of conclusions one can draw in their own mind regarding how to connect the various dots that make up the things that happened from 2015 until Election Day 2016. However, there’s nothing definitive alleged that connects those dots alleged anywhere in the Complaint other than what amounts to assumptions and guesses. That doesn’t strike me as being legally sufficient, and certainly would not be enough to meet even the lower burden of proof that needs to be met in a civil action, and that suggests that this case is going to spend a long time being litigated with very little to show for it beyond the fact that it will appease the base.

Here’s the Complaint:

Democratic National Committee v. Russian Federation et al by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Trump’s currently preoccupied with Twitter-raging about the NYT story this morning detailing how he’s always treated Michael Cohen like garbage. I raise this issue because the suit above names Roger Stone as a defendant, and Stone is a principal source for the NYT story about Trump’s abuse of Cohen. Trump accuses Maggie Haberman, the principal author of the piece, of being a third-rate Hillary Clinton lover whose source for this story is a “drunken, drugged out” individual. Is he referring to Stone?




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  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    This is a stupid stunt by the DNC.
    Democrats need some real leaders and they need them soon.
    This Republic is in a bad place, and if it’s going to be saved it’s going to have to be now. We are rapidly becoming a Banana Republic. These kinds of stunts are not going to stop the death spiral.




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  3. TM01 says:

    Can Trump et al counter sue? Because that would be awesome. Discovery would be great. FINALLY someone would be able to see the DNC servers and figure out who “hacked” them.

    An honest judge should just toss this immediately without even having to hear from the defense.

    This is total desperation on the part of the Left. I wonder if they are as confident about their chances in November as they publicly claim they are.




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  4. michael reynolds says:

    No, it’s not just a stunt, and no, it’s not stupid. The DNC suit in Watergate preceded just about every revelation, it came at a time when no one (including me) took it seriously. And yet, it turned out to be amazingly on-target. The DNC knew it was Nixon and said so before anyone.

    A tort has been committed. The GOP has acted illegally, contemptuous of norms, the very concept of democracy. The GOP is currently engaged actively in obstruction of justice. The party should be held accountable, not just Trump. I’ll say it again: Trump is not some wild detour for the GOP, Trump is its inevitable destination, its full flowering. The GOP is Trump, Trump is the GOP.

    The Mueller investigation will presumably deal with the Trump Crime Family, but what of their enablers, their co-conspirators? The GOP gets to walk away and pretend they had no responsibility for this disaster? No, I want that discovery to take place. I want to know not just what Trump knew and when he knew it, I want the same for Ryan and McConnell and Nunes and the rest.




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  5. @michael reynolds:

    I have serious doubts that this case will ever get to the discovery phase.




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  6. Eric Florack says:

    This is the most insane and hilarious manuver so far… First and foremost it will be established that the DNC was not hacked, but it was an inside leak. Secondly, all of what they claim was ‘hacked’ has to be submitted as EVIDENCE. It will once again be shown that all of the emails are authentic. And do you think that people will not once again discuss the CONTENT of those emails?!




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  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    According to Maddow the judge who’s to decide whether the case proceeds is a former Watergate prosecutor. I don’t think that makes it a slam dunk, but it suggests a degree of openness. Another point she made is that the Watergate suit was frequently amended as new data, new allegations appeared. And historian Michael Beschloss said that the suit – widely dismissed by pundits – actually concerned Nixon quite a bit.

    Obviously this case isn’t about the GRU or Wikileaks, it’s about Kushner, Manafort and Stone (and John Does to be named.) Did Stone conspire with the GRU to attack this country’s election? Yes, I am quite certain he did. If we get a chance to start pulling the Stone thread how many more Republicans will we find attached? Did Stone confine his gloating to Trump and the occasional media opportunity? Or did he brag to other Republicans about the Wikileaks revelations? Obviously he bragged to Giuliani, and God knows Giuliani can’t keep his mouth shut, so how many did Giuliani tell? How much of this was out there in GOP circles? Did McConnell – whose wife is a Trump cabinet member – know in advance? Is that why he’s been complicit, did he get his pay-off? Did Ryan know? Is that why he’s allowed Nunes to play Benedict Arnold?

    The American people have a right to the answers. Mueller may or may not get the full story. Avenatti may or may not force Cohen to flip. But if this suit progresses, we’ll get a more complete picture.

    And again, it bears repeating: the DNC Watergate case was decided for the DNC.




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  8. @michael reynolds:

    I don’t question Maddow’s intelligence, but she’s not an attorney and I’ve not seen many attorney/analysts on either MSNBC or CNN in the past 24 hours who think very much of this lawsuit’s legal merits.

    The standards for allowing claims to proceed have changed significantly in the forty-odd years since that Watergate lawsuit was filed, and the District Court Judge is bound by those rules and precedents. At the very least, I suspect the issue of legal sufficiency of the claims will take a long time, potentially years, to resolve between litigation at the District Court, Court of Appeals, and possibly even the Supreme Court, to resolve before even getting to the issue of actually uncovering facts in the discovery process. Most of this stuff will be incredibly boring to the average person and likely won’t get much press attention due to the fact that it’s not easy to summarize.

    In the meantime, the Mueller investigation will continue and neither you nor I know for sure what he and his team will conclude or be able to uncover. It’s entirely possible that everything will end up being a complete dud notwithstanding the fact that he may end up having caught people like Manafort, Gates, Flynn, Papadopolous, Cohen, and others in legal liability for matters not directly related to the campaign.

    As things stand, though, the Complaint appears to me to be, as I said, chock full of allegations weaved together by assumptions and guesswork. That may be damaging from a political point of view, but I have doubts about how well it will stand up in Court.




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  9. Andy says:

    As is often the case, the Onion has the best coverage of this story:

    DNC Files Lawsuit Alleging Nation Should Never, Ever Stop Focusing On 2016 Election

    Yes, at this point the case is a stunt. It could, however, become more than that as time goes on. Despite the certainty and conviction of Michael and others on what happened, the evidence isn’t there. However, it might be there in the future. Therefore it’s a win-win for the Democrats – except for those in competitive districts. If the investigation turns out nothing, then the suit will die a quiet death, so there’s little downside for the DNC.




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  10. Charon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    According to Maddow the judge who’s to decide whether the case proceeds is a former Watergate prosecutor.

    The DNC filed its 1972 suit 3 days after the Watergate breakin and named the Nixon campaign as its target. The suit was met with widespread skepticism, sneering and snarking. (Maddow showed a few illustrative film clips of the snarking).

    The lawyers the DNC hired have a reputation for winning complex cases of this sort. I have looked through the 54 page complaint, IANAL but it looks pretty serious to me and no mere political stunt. (It is possible for a suit to simultaneously seek serious damages and throw off political benefits).




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  11. Charon says:

    @Andy:

    Despite the certainty and conviction of Michael and others on what happened, the evidence isn’t there.

    And you know this how? Mueller and SDNY are sharing their evidence with you?

    For a big nothingburger witch hunt, there sure are a lot of people acting as if some of the big names have some serious guilt.




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  12. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    One of two things is true: either Trump is guilty of serious crimes, or he’s an absolute imbecile.

    Trump is unmistakably signaling guilt. You have to be deaf, dumb, blind and on Fox and Friends not to see that his actions and statements are those of a guilty man. If he took out a Sharpie and wrote ‘Guilty’ on his forehead he could not be doing a better job of looking guilty.

    Let’s dichotomize again. There are two kinds of people who keep telling us through their words and actions that they’re guilty. . . no, wait, I’m wrong. There’s only one kind of person who keeps signaling guilt: a guilty man. A very stupid guilty man.




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  13. Charon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t question Maddow’s intelligence, but she’s not an attorney and I’ve not seen many attorney/analysts on either MSNBC or CNN in the past 24 hours who think very much of this lawsuit’s legal merits.

    I haven’t been counting noses at MSNBC, but I did see this in the Post story:

    Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor who specializes in computer-fraud cases, said he thought the Democrats’ suit had merit and, despite predictions from Trump-allied lawyers, was unlikely to go away anytime soon.

    “There is no way it’s going to be dismissed,” said Akerman, a partner in the New York office of the Dorsey & Whitney law firm. “At least not on the computer-fraud part of the case, which is really the heart of it. The Democrats have every right to bring this suit as they are aggrieved. My question is: What took them so long?”




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  14. Charon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As things stand, though, the Complaint appears to me to be, as I said, chock full of allegations weaved together by assumptions and guesswork.

    You might well be right, or, alternatively, this might be a bit of motivated reasoning.




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  15. Andy says:

    @Charon:

    And you know this how? Mueller and SDNY are sharing their evidence with you?

    If the information is there, it’s not public and it’s not in the DNC complaint. As I said in my comment and, as I’ve said all along, there might indeed be evidence of criminal collusion, but I’m not going to declare it to be so before the evidence exists to support that conclusion.

    One of two things is true: either Trump is guilty of serious crimes, or he’s an absolute imbecile.

    There are actually more possibilities than that and those two possibilities are not mutually exclusive, so your dichotomy doesn’t work the way you’ve framed it.

    Trump is unmistakably signaling guilt. You have to be deaf, dumb, blind and on Fox and Friends not to see that his actions and statements are those of a guilty man.

    I’m perfectly happy to wait for the official investigations to discover actual facts instead of reaching early conclusions that rely on perceived mannerisms.




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  16. dmichael says:

    Gee Doug, I used to be a lawyer (now retired) and I didn’t know that the complaint has to have “proof” in it: “…the Complaint is heavy with allegations but entirely lacking in proof regarding any real collusion between and among the parties in question.” Then again, it’s been five years since I retired and maybe the entire litigation process has changed. I think what you were trying to say is that you believe the complaint lacks sufficient allegations to support a claim for relief. That argument will be tested soon and the worse result would likely be the filing of an amended complaint containing additional allegations. I also wonder why you would dismiss (no pun) the previous successful DNC lawsuit over the Watergate break in. It had the delicious irony of having the RNC fork over $750,000 to the DNC on the DAY Nixon resigned. Let’s hope history repeats.




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  17. @dmichael:

    Perhaps “proof” is the wrong word, but the fact remains that the Complaint is full of allegations but lacking in specific allegations tying all these allegations together to prove the existence of the claimed conspiracy. Even under the most generous standards of notice pleading, it seems utterly insufficient to me.

    At the very least, I expect that this Complaint will need to be substantially amended with actual allegations of collusion that go beyond the mere guesswork contained in the Complaint if it is going to get beyond a Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the FRCP. Of course, in making those allegations, the lawyers are going to have to be careful they don’t violate the provisions of Rule 11.




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  18. @Charon:

    I have made clear since June 16, 2015, what I think of Donald Trump, and indeed long before then.

    Your apparent suggestion that I am biased in this matter has no merit.




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  19. Charon says:

    @Andy:

    As I said in my comment and, as I’ve said all along, there might indeed be evidence of criminal collusion,

    Have you even noticed what this suit is about? Here is a clue – the suit is about the DNC computers being hacked by Guccifer (fact) and the results disclosed by wikileaks (fact). There are already filed indictments alleging various people named as involved.




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  20. Charon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You are unlike me then as I know I have biases and allow for that in my thinking.




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  21. @Charon:

    I didn’t say I don’t have biases, but your clear implication is that my analysis of the legal sufficiency of the Complaint is somehow influenced by a pro-Trump bias.

    As the two links I provided, and I think any of the regulars here at OTB, can tell you, the idea that I am in anyway sympathetic to the current occupant of the White House could not be further from the truth.

    I’d love to be able to say that this Complaint is a legal slam dunk. It quite simply is not.




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  22. Charon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    This is kind of OT, but here is a great book you might read:

    “Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)” by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson




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  23. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    I’m perfectly happy to wait for the official investigations to discover actual facts instead of reaching early conclusions that rely on perceived mannerisms.

    No interest in human behavior? No curiosity as to why Trump is frantic to stop an investigation if he’s innocent? No concern for what a desperate man with control of thousands of nuclear weapons might do?

    The only reason we have an investigation is because of people with more curiosity than you seem to have. You’re taking the mature, judicious approach. . . and yet stating categorically that the case is a stunt. And you claim that the evidence isn’t there. In fact there is a mountain, a veritable Everest of evidence, which you dismiss out of hand based on. . .what?

    Evidence of consciousness of guilt is entirely relevant, it’s a part of many criminal cases. If your wife turns up dead and you decide it’s time to take a trip abroad, cops and prosecutors are going to present that as evidence in court. If a man is accused and then bends every effort toward stopping an investigation that could – if he’s innocent – prove that innocence, that in itself is evidence of a consciousness of guilt.

    You’re choosing to dismiss out of hand evidence that would be admissible in court as proof of consciousness of guilt. You’re not really being judicious, you’re not happily awaiting the outcome, you’re leaning on the data.

    Let’s say you, Andy, run a business. Money’s gone missing so you launch an internal investigation. One employee immediately freaks out, demands to be preemptively exonerated, threatens everyone involved in the investigation, begins accusing everyone but himself, and keeps getting caught in lies. . . do you think maybe you’ve got your guy? Are you going to keep that guy on?




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  24. @dmichael:

    Also, I don’t “dismiss” the 1972 lawsuit. In fact, I mention it in the opening paragraph of my commentary.

    However, I’m not sure that lawsuit tells us anything about what might happen in this case.

    The most important factor in this regard, of course, is the fact that there have been significant changes in how Federal Courts evaluate the legal sufficiency of lawsuits in the 46 years that have passed since that lawsuit was filed. It’s also worth noting that it does not appear that the Watergate lawsuit ever actually made very much progress in the Courts and that settling it in 1974, two years after it was filed, was as much about getting Watergate closed as an issue as anything else.

    Finally it’s worth noting that the lawsuit itself doesn’t appear to have played a significant role in the overall Watergate saga. (Indeed, I was unaware of it until reading about it in connection with the filing of this lawsuit, but then I was only four years old during the 1972 election.) It wasn’t the lawsuit that led to Nixon’s resignation, it was the Congressional and Special Prosecutor investigations and, even then, the end didn’t come until Nixon was forced to release the remainder of the Oval Office tapes by the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Nixon

    In any case, these are all issues that will be dealt with by the Court going forward. I suspect, though, that if there is any “smoking gun” out there with regard to the Russia investigation it will be the Mueller investigation that uncovers it, not this lawsuit conveniently filed just six months before the midterm elections.




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  25. grumpy realist says:

    I fall in the line of those who think that this is something that probably will get thrown out by the courts unless it gets considerably modified.

    I realise the DNC are trying to troll Trump, but this isn’t the way to do it.




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  26. Charon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Finally it’s worth noting that the lawsuit itself doesn’t appear to have played a significant role in the overall Watergate saga.

    not this lawsuit conveniently filed just six months before the midterm elections.

    So why is the convenient timing a problem if the suit is unlikely to play a significant role?




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  27. Andy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    No interest in human behavior? No curiosity as to why Trump is frantic to stop an investigation if he’s innocent? No concern for what a desperate man with control of thousands of nuclear weapons might do?

    I have an interest in the first and the last of those things. That interest doesn’t change the necessity of basing conclusions on facts.

    The only reason we have an investigation is because of people with more curiosity than you seem to have.

    You seem unable to resist ad hominem arguments base on spurious conclusions about what you think is in my head.

    You’re taking the mature, judicious approach. . . and yet stating categorically that the case is a stunt.

    You missed the “at this point” part of my comment. You also missed that I “categorically” stated suit “…could, however, become more than that as time goes on. ”

    In fact there is a mountain, a veritable Everest of evidence, which you dismiss out of hand based on. . .what?

    There is evidence, yes, but not for what is alleged in this suit, which is a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign, the Russians, Wikileaks, etc.

    You’re choosing to dismiss out of hand evidence that would be admissible in court as proof of consciousness of guilt.

    How are your interpretations of Trump’s mannerisms on TV or the legitimate legal defense against accusation admissible in court? I think you need to explain this better.

    You’re not really being judicious, you’re not happily awaiting the outcome, you’re leaning on the data.

    Is this irony of this accusation lost on you?

    Let’s say you, Andy, run a business. Money’s gone missing so you launch an internal investigation. One employee immediately freaks out, demands to be preemptively exonerated, threatens everyone involved in the investigation, begins accusing everyone but himself, and keeps getting caught in lies. . . do you think maybe you’ve got your guy? Are you going to keep that guy on?

    I don’t think that’s a good analogy.

    Look, my standard is simple and clear – I’m perfectly willing to consider the possibility that accusations in this suit might be true. But I am not going to conclude that the accusations are, in fact, true until there are actual facts and evidence that demonstrate it. And I am certainly not going to engage in the Doug Feith school of analysis, where conclusions come first and everything after is filtered by that conclusion.




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  28. Charon says:

    I found this comment at BJ, don’t know how valid it is:

    If I understand correctly the DNC had to do this now or lose the option, as one of the key laws has a 2 year statutory limitation for claims to be brought. The limit would have been hit at the end of April.




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  29. gVOR08 says:

    it’s hard to see this lawsuit as anything other than a blatantly political move on the part of Democrats designed to appease its own base, increase the legal pressures on the President and the Administration, and to attempt to rally the opposition to the President as we get closer to the midterm elections.

    You say that as though these are bad things.




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  30. @Charon:

    You can judge that for yourself, I am merely making an observation about history and about what the actual motives of this lawsuit might be.

    And the convenient timing I refer to is the fact that the mid-term elections are just about six months away.




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  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    I don’t have conclusions, I have observations of statements and behaviors which I interpret, informed by human behavior. Innocent people do not threaten investigators. If you’re accused but innocent you want the investigation. You even demand an investigation. “Are you calling me a thief? Look in my bag, look in my desk, here look at my bank balance!” That’s what an innocent man does.

    We have before us a man who has lied repeatedly. A man who demanded preemptive exoneration, and when he failed to get it, he began attacking investigators. Is it that he opposes investigations per se? Obviously not. He’s quite happy to have another 100 investigations of Hillary.

    Clearly Roger Stone colluded with Wikileaks. Both he and Giuliani had advance knowledge of the Wikileaks attack – Giuliani is on record at a dozen interviews gloating that something big was coming. Watch the tapes. The man was giggling in anticipation. And after the leaks came out, he confirmed that the leaks were what he was hinting at. Stone did much the same, but in fewer venues.

    So clearly Stone and Giuliani both had advance knowledge that their candidate was going to be the beneficiary of an illegal act. From whence came that information? The only realistic sources are, Wikileaks and the hackers, in this case, the Russians. That’s not ‘no evidence of collusion’ it’s circumstantial evidence of exactly that, and as we know from watching cop shows, most evidence is circumstantial.




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  32. Andy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    If you’re accused but innocent you want the investigation. You even demand an investigation. “Are you calling me a thief? Look in my bag, look in my desk, here look at my bank balance!” That’s what an innocent man does.

    Actually, it’s rarely a good idea to give anyone in a position of authority – particularly law enforcement – the opportunity to conduct a fishing expedition for free. Certainly, no defense attorney for anyone – regardless of actual guilt or innocence – would ever advocate what you’re saying here. It’s bad advice.

    The argument that “he must be guilty because he acts guilty” is a bad one and we have a long and establish track record in this country that demonstrates that level of “evidence” is often evidence of nothing at all, or used to wrongly convict or force confessions from the innocent.




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  33. Todd says:

    At this point, such a lawsuit seems kind of redundant.

    The Mueller probe is still ongoing.

    And, if the Democrats take back the House, certainly some of these question could be better explored in committees than they have been under Republican control.

    In some ways, filing this lawsuit could almost be viewed as Democrats lacking confidence in both the Mueller investigation and their prospects in the upcoming election.

    Politically, this lawsuit is probably a wash. However, I don’t think it’s all that far-fetched to see it becoming a headache for some Red State Senators with a (D) next to their name, who already have a tough enough task in November.




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  34. gVOR08 says:

    @Andy: On the other hand, would not any normal innocent person in Trump’s position be doing everything he could to look tough on Russia? Trump has failed to institute legislated sanctions and now killed new sanctions already announced by his UN ambassador. Even though the subjects might claim it’s a fishing expedition, would it not be prudent to pursue all possible lines of investigation until we know why?




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  35. Eric Florack says:

    @Doug Mataconis: probably true, and for the reasons I listed




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  36. TM01 says:

    Innocent people do not threaten investigators. If you’re accused but innocent you want the investigation. You even demand an investigation. “Are you calling me a thief? Look in my bag, look in my desk, here look at my bank balance!” That’s what an innocent man does.

    @michael reynolds: Are you still beating your wife?

    Mind if I come into your home? Look thru all your drawers? Have a doctor examine your wife? Look at all the pictures on your phone? Check your browsing history? Talk to all your neighbors about everything they’ve ever seen you do?

    You’re innocent, right?

    Seriously, get a hobby, man. You have issues.




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  37. michael reynolds says:

    @TM01:
    Sure. If you have a credible charge to level, come on over. Don’t mind the mess. Want to see my bank account? My emails? My texts? My tax returns? OK. Facebook’s already got it all. I have nothing to hide.

    See, my friend, I’ve been in trouble with the law. I know how guilty people act. I know the way the paranoia eats into you if you’re not strong. I know the sensory distortion field that surrounds people fleeing justice. I know the lashing out, the self-pity, the denial, the whole thing. I also know the self-destructive urge to double down, to ‘show them all.’ Been there, done it. I even know the laser focus of the psychopath on personal survival. Ah, good times, good times.

    It’s funny to see the trailer trash telling themselves that Trump is one of them. No, he’s one of (pre-reform) me. Just dumber, weaker and more cowardly.

    I’ve been the guilty man fleeing and am now the innocent man, washed in the blood of the Lamb, or at least cleaned up a bit with some ethics and morality apps downloaded. So I also know how the innocent man acts, and it’s the diametric opposite of Trump.

    He’s guilty as fck. I know it, @Andy knows it, even you know it. How do I know that you know it? You never claim he’s innocent, you just shift the goal posts every time Mueller or the media scores a first down. You want to be on the attack, loudly touting the Great Man’s achievements. But you’re not, you’re just sniping from the underbrush. 14 months in and you’re on the defensive. 14 months in, the economy is looking great, and yet he’s at a weak 40% and somehow we never hear from you about all the swell promises Trump has fulfilled.

    If you want to know how things are going, turn on the TV at 9 PM EST and switch back and forth from Hannity to Maddow. Who’s smiling? Who’s on the defensive? Or just count the House and Senate resignations. Does it look like your side is winning? Nah, Trump is losing badly. He’s a frightened little man flailing and bellowing because deep down even he knows he’s losing because he knows he’s guilty. One other thing innocent people don’t do? They don’t loudly insist that their fixer won’t flip on them. An innocent man says, “I could not care less what Michael Cohen tells investigators, because I have nothing to hide.” If Trump weren’t so effing stupid he’d at least try that bluff.

    Take a smart cop and an equally smart criminal. Who wins? The cops, 99% of the time. Because the criminal is a guy on the high wire, and the cops are the floor. Sooner or later. . .




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  38. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: The question is whether any of Trump’s actions can be proven under law.

    I’m suspicious of the usefulness of this suit because a) what can be proven as opposed to being conspiracy theories, b) the cause of action, and c) limits on discovery. Bringing a cause of action doesn’t mean you have a free license to go poking around asking for everything. It’s also got the possibility of getting distracted into the very worst of conspiracy-theory mongering. Just because B occurred after A doesn’t mean that B is due to A, or has any relationship.




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  39. Todd says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I’m suspicious of the usefulness of this suit …

    I agree.

    I think that what @Doug Mataconis: said up here is important to keep in mind. There is virtually no chance that any sort of embarrassing discovery is going to happen before the mid-terms.

    However, it’s much easier to imagine a scenario where the judge makes a ruling denying certain parts (or all) of the suit … later this fall, right before the election.

    This just seems like an unnecessarily risky proposition, for very little potential reward. *(the calculus might make a bit more sense if Mueller wasn’t already investigating most/all of these issues).




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  40. TM01 says:

    @michael reynolds: credible charges?

    Lol

    Everything you ridiculously believe is based on a fake dossier about Russian prostitutes. Mueller has nothing regarding Russia. Has anyone even pointed to a specific statute Trump violated?

    Come on.

    #MuhRussia




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  41. Andy says:

    @gVOR08:

    I’m not against pursuing lines of investigation, assuming they are legitimate. I’m against hasty conclusions based on subjective nonsense instead of hard facts.

    Bottom line is that I’m happy to wait to see what the various official investigations reveal. Others, apparently, are able to divine the truth from watching Trump on TV.




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  42. AnotherBruce says:

    News at 11:00. Politicians are being political. So what? The Democrats have every right to pursue this lawsuit. It’s called playing offense, which is something that the Democrats have not been accused of as of late. What kind of argument can you make that they haven’t been harmed by the potential defendants of this suit? And I don’t understand why a number of the commentators here are dismissing conspiracy. So how do we know that The Trump campaign was not conspiring with the Russians and Wikileaks to steal the election? I’m not saying its been proven, but if it is, the Democrats have a nice claim to damages. I think it’s pretty arrogant to presume that certain actors have not been doing damage to the Democrats.




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  43. TM01 says:

    @michael reynolds: let’s go with that.

    Why has the DNC never turned their servers over for an analysis to determine who hacked them?

    They sure must be guilty of something. What are they trying to hide? They should WELCOME an independent inspection of their servers.

    Right?




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  44. TM01 says:

    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.

    I can’t wait for discovery! Can’t wait to see the DNC suddenly withdraw their suit when THEY have to provide information.




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  45. Charon says:

    @TM01:

    Gish galloped nonsense and non sequiturs. No one wasting time on this, too bad.




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  46. TM01 says:

    @Charon: maybe pull your fingers out of your ears and pull your head out of….. The ground.

    Ignore anything that doesn’t reinforce your preconceptions.




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  47. An Interested Party says:

    Mueller has nothing regarding Russia.

    Oh look, someone from Mueller’s legal team has graced this site with his presence…

    Ignore anything that doesn’t reinforce your preconceptions.

    Oh, so she’s just emulating you…




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  48. grumpy realist says:

    Well, we can definitely tell here who has a legal background and who doesn’t….




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  49. Tyrell says:

    It’s all a ruse, a diversion.
    The people out here on Maple Street and other USA hometowns don’t have this Russian stuff, Cohen, the porn “star”, Comey’s book, Mueller’s scavenger hunt, or someone’s tax returns on their most urgent list. It’s the economy, tax reform, government reform, the infrastructure*,
    immigration, senior care, and health costs.
    The Republicans tried that junk too when Obama was in. A waste of time then, and a waste of time now.
    Both parties need to get on the ball, or watch themselves get passed by a third party that shows some sense and gets things done instead of obsessing on middle school level shenanigans and dramas.
    “It’s all for nothing. All for nothing”
    *How did the Romans build roads that are still in use, but our highways have to be rebuilt every seven years?




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