The Democratic National Committee sued Russia, President Donald Trump's campaign and WikiLeaks in federal court on Friday, claiming that they conspired to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.
The political party alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and tilt the election to Trump by hacking Democratic Party computers.
The Washington Post was first to report the multi-million dollar lawsuit, filed in Manhattan.
It alleges that a large racketeering-type conspiracy to harm Hillary Clinton's candidacy existed between the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia that was furthered by hacking and publishing emails belonging to the DNC.
The Democratic National Committee is suing a host of people in Trumpworld – but not the president himself – claiming in a lawsuit that campaign aides worked hand-in-hand with Russians and WikiLeaks to help Donald Trump win the White House
DNC chairman Tom Perez on Friday blamed the Trump campaign for 'unprecedented treachery' by working 'in league with a hostile foreign power' to tilt the 2016 election
'The Russian government notified the Trump campaign in advance that it had stolen Democratic emails and other information about the Democratic Party that it was seeking to use in support of Trump's candidacy,' the DNC claimed Friday in a press release.
'Rather than reporting Russia's offer to meddle in a U.S. election, the Trump campaign welcomed Russia's help,' the party claimed.
The Trump campaign pushed back hours later, suggesting that the DNC is short on funds and sorely needs to raise money on the back of a high-profile lawsuit.
'This is a sham lawsuit about a bogus Russian collusion claim filed by a desperate, dysfunctional, and nearly insolvent Democratic Party,' campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
'With the Democrats’ conspiracy theories against the President’s campaign evaporating as quickly as the failing DNC’s fundraising, they’ve sunk to a new low to raise money, especially among small donors who have abandoned them.'
The campaign also said if the legal action proceeds far enough for the two sides to demand documents from one another, Trumpworld will use the opportunity to dig into other matters.
They include 'how the DNC contributed to the fake dossier,' an unproven but salacious opposition research document targeting Trump that ended up at the Justice Department.
The campaign also said it was prepared to explore '[w]hy the FBI was never allowed access to the DNC servers in the course of their investigation into the Clinton e-mail scandal,' and '[h]ow officials at the highest levels of the DNC colluded with the news media to influence the outcome of the DNC nomination.'
Wikileaks responded on Twitter that the DNC 'already has a moribund publicity lawsuit which the press has became bored of – hence the need to refile it as a "new" suit before mid-terms. As an accurate publisher of newsworthy information, @WikiLeaks is constitutionally protected from such suits.'
Friday's lawsuit alleges 11 different causes of action, including conspiracy, computer fraud and abuse, misappropriation of trade secrets and trespass.
It argues that 'In the Trump campaign, Russia found a willing and active partner in this effort' to mount 'a brazen attack on American Democracy.'
The suit also alleges Trump and his associates had 'preexisting relationships with Russia and Russian oligarchs' which 'provided fertile ground for [the] Russia-Trump conspiracy.'
It's unclear whether the legal action will survive the defendants' inevitable motion to dismiss it.
CNN legal analyst Paul Callan said Friday that the legal action is 'a publicity stunt to get information – to get depositions and discovery that you can generate some headlines with.'
'I suspect it will be tossed out of court eventually,' Callan said.
The Democratic Party pressed its case in the media beginning shortly before noon on Friday.
Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to Trump, and her party is pressing the case that sinister conspiracy and collusion were the reason
The Democrats claim Russia's government and its intelligence services were behind hacking its office computer server and stealing a trove of emails – and that they told the Trump campaign about it before anyone else knew
Paul Callan, a CNN legal analyst, predicted almost immediately that the 'publicity stunt' lawsuit will be 'tossed out of court eventually'
'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 chairman 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.'
The suit names as defendants Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign chair Paul Manafort, deputy Rick Gates, and other campaign officials, but not the president himself.
Gates and Manafort have both been charged in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Manafort has pleaded not guilty. Gates accepted a plea deal and is cooperating with investigators.
Also facing the lawsuit are Trump's sometimes-adviser Roger Stone and the president's son, Donald Trump
Former senior Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort (right) and Rick Gates (left) are also named in the suit filed Friday
The House Intelligence Committee reported last month that it had found no evidence to suggest Trump or his close aides coordinate or conspired with Russian officials to interfere with the election.
Yet the Democrats are positioning Trumpworld as a reckless and malicious force that seized power for the president in an illegitimate fashion through a confederacy with a hostile foreign power.
'No one is above the law,' the suit says.
'In the run-up to the 2016 election, Russia mounted a brazen attack on American Democracy. The opening salvo was an attack on the DNC, carried out on American soil.'
'In 2015 and 2016, Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC's computers, penetrated its phone systems and exfiltrated tens of thousands of documents and emails.
'Russia then used this stolen information to advance its own interests: destabilizing the U.S. political environment, denigrating Democratic presidential nominee, and supporting the campaign of Donald J. Trump ... whose policies would benefit the Kremlin,' the suit claims.