The Democratic National Committee (DNC) filed a lawsuit in federal court on Friday alleging the Trump campaign conspired with WikiLeaks and the Russian government to sow chaos during the 2016 election and advantage Trump in the race for the White House.
DNC Chair Tom Perez, in a statement published by The Washington Post, called the Russian meddling an “all-out assault on democracy” and accused the Trump campaign of being a willing and active participant in the plan to harm ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s odds at victory.
“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,” Perez said.
According to the Post, the suit does not specifically name President Trump; rather, it identifies several Trump aides, including his son, Donald Trump Jr., who are known to have had repeated contacts with Russian officials. Additionally, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, the Russian Federation, and attribution-front “Guccifer 2.0” are named, among others.
Trump has repeatedly denied allegation that his campaign conspired with Russia to sway the outcome of the election, calling the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller a “political witch hunt.” The Russian government also denies ever colluding with the president. WikiLeaks, which could not be reached for comment, has denied that the hacked DNC emails it received during the election came from Moscow.
The alleged hacker who took credit for supplying WikiLeaks with those emails, who also denies being Russian, allegedly revealed himself mistakenly as a Russian intelligence officer, leaking his IP address at one point, according to a report in The Daily Beast last month.
In March, a federal grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian firms for allegedly meddling in the US election, in case brought by Mueller.
The US intelligence community unanimously agrees that Russia waged the cyberattacks against the Democrats in 2016 and that the purpose of doing so was to harm Clinton’s chances. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” a declassified intelligence community report said in January 2016.
“We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
Any conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, however, remains somewhat murky as the Mueller investigation enters its second year. A number of Trump aides, such as former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, had direct contact with Russian officials and have mislead federal investigators about those interactions.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates are among those also named in the Democrat’s suit. Mueller has filed a 32-count indictment against Manafort and Gates accusing the pair of a wide range of financial crimes. Gates, who was accused of filing false income tax returns, among other crimes, pleaded guilty in February. Manafort, meanwhile, has pleaded not guilty.