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Democratic Party sues Trump, Russia, WikiLeaks over 2016 email hack

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But the DNC’s lawsuit could force the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks to reveal internal communications about the hack through the legal discovery process.

“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 Chair 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.”

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with the Russian government and his campaign manager summarily dismissed the lawsuit Friday as a “conspiracy theory,” saying the discovery process would backfire on Democrats by airing their dirty laundry.

“This is a sham lawsuit about a bogus Russian collusion claim filed by a desperate, dysfunctional, and nearly insolvent Democratic Party,” said Brad Parscale, who is running Trump’s reelection campaign. “While this lawsuit is frivolous and will be dismissed, if the case goes forward, the DNC has created an opportunity for us to take aggressive discovery into their claims of ‘damages’ and uncover their acts of corruption for the American people.”

Trump himself tweeted about the lawsuit late Friday night.

The civil suit follows a playbook the DNC successfully deployed in 1972 after Republican operatives broke into the party’s headquarters in the Watergate office complex. Allies of President Richard Nixon initially dismissed the $1 million suit as frivolous, but the president’s re-election campaign later settled for $750,000 on the day Nixon left office, according to The Washington Post, which first reported Friday’s lawsuit.

The DNC has retained the law firm Cohen-Milstein, which has been involved in settlements for large data breaches in the past, including one against health insurer Anthem, which affected 80 million people.

After the 2016 hack, the DNC spent millions to replace IT equipment, hire outside cybersecurity consultants and otherwise clean up the damage. Beyond the financial cost, the publication of the hacked emails forced the party’s chairwoman to resign, infuriated donors, traumatized staffers and contributed to the party’s loss of the White House.

“They successfully hacked the Democratic Party in 2016 and they will be back. We must prevent future attacks on our democracy, and that’s exactly what we’re doing today,” said Perez, a former top official in the Obama Justice Department. “This is not partisan, it’s patriotic. If the occupant of the Oval Office won’t protect our democracy, Democrats will.”

The DNC’s 66-page complaint lays out in the detailed the alleged conspiracy among Trump, WikiLeaks and hackers working for the Russian government. “Each defendant knowingly aided, abetted, encouraged, induced, instigated, contributed and assisted” the hack and subsequent publication of the emails, the complaint alleges.

The lawsuit is unusual in several ways, especially because it names foreign organizations that would be difficult to bring to court in the U.S.

Foreign governments are generally immune from U.S. prosecution, but the DNC claims this suit falls into one of the exemptions to that law, since the hack amounted to the Russian government trespassing on the committee’s private property.



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Trump under fire for not denouncing white supremacists during debate

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President Trump’s remark telling the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during the debate has become a rallying cry for the far-right group. Trump today said he was unaware of the group and they should stand down to “let law enforcement do their work.”

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Trump sows doubt on legitimacy of election at first presidential debate

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President Trump continued to attack mail-in voting on Tuesday despite studies showing voter fraud is exceedingly rare.

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12 Democratic governors vow that all votes will be counted

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LANSING, Mich. — Twelve Democratic governors issued a joint statement on Wednesday defending American democracy, vowing that every valid ballot will be counted in the election after President Donald Trump sowed distrust during the first presidential debate.

Trump claimed without evidence Tuesday night that mail voting — surging in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic — is ripe for fraud, and he refused to say whether he would accept the results. He also called on his backers to scrutinize voting procedures at the polls, which critics said could cross into voter intimidation.

Without mentioning Trump by name, the governors noted his refusal last week to commit to a peaceful transition of power.

“Any efforts to throw out ballots or refuse a peaceful transfer of power are nothing less than an assault on democracy,” they wrote. “There is absolutely no excuse for promoting the intimidation or harassment of voters. These are all blatant attempts to deny our constituents the right to have their voices heard, as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, and to know the will of the people will be carried out.”

Signing the statement were Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Gavin Newsom of California, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Ralph Northam of Virginia, Jay Inslee of Washington, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Kate Brown of Oregon, Steve Sisolak of Nevada, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and John Carney of Delaware.

The governors said all valid ballots cast in accordance with state and local laws must be counted and if Trump loses, “he must leave office — period.”

They wrote that elections are not “an exercise in controlling power” and that disenfranchising voters “strikes at the very heart” of democracy.

“We call on elected leaders at all levels, from both parties, to speak out loudly against such efforts in the weeks ahead,” they said.

Trump campaign spokesperson Thea McDonald accused Democrats of “working to shred election integrity rules across the country to stack the deck for their lackluster candidate.” Republicans, she said, “are aiming for an election with results all Americans can trust.”

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