A New Front In The Russia Investigation.
On April 20th the Democratic National Committee sued a bunch of Russians, Wikileaks, the Trump Campaign, and individuals in that campaign, for collusion and interference in the Presidential election. CLICK HERE TO READ THE LAWSUIT. This article is a quick walk through of the 66 page Complaint.
President Trump is not named individually. Entities and individuals close to him that are named include:
Donald Trump for President, Inc.
Donald Trump, Jr.
The Complaint also lists as defendants Russia, the Russian GRU, the Russian GRU under the pseudonym “Guccifer 2.0,” some individual Russians, Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
The Core Allegations.
The core allegations are that Russia “mounted a brazen attack on American Democracy” though a cyberattack against the DNC. The Complaint alleges “In the Trump campaign Russia found a willing and active partner in this effort.” Russia contacted the Trump Campaign to advise the campaign it desired to help Trump win by damaging Clinton. “Rather than report these repeated messages from Russia intended to interfere with U.S. elections, the Trump Campaign and its agents gleefully welcomed Russia’s help.”
The Complaint alleges “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. Though these communications Trump representatives formed an agreement with Russian agents “to promote Donald Trump’s candidacy.”
The Complaint provides a lengthy list of evidence supporting these allegations. The emails between Trump Jr., and Russians leading to their meeting, Emails between Trump Jr. and representatives of Wikileaks, Stone’s communications with Wikileaks, his bragging about connections, and his predicting when specific leaks would occur. Manafort’s long connections with Russian intelligence operatives, his communications with Papadoupolos and so on. Papadoupolos’ pattern of communications with the Russians seeking to collude and his sharing his efforts with the upper echelon of the Trump Campaigns.
Trump’s repeated statements about loving Wikileaks and encouraging the Russians to get and release Clinton’s emails. The numerous false statements from Trump and others in the Campaign that there had been no contacts with any Russians of any kind, to include the initial false story trying to minimize the meeting Trump Jr., had with the Russians.
While President Trump is not named as a Defendant, specific acts by him are repeatedly described in the factual allegations as contributing to the criminal enterprise involved. I suspect the DNC sought to avoid the additional complexities of suing a sitting President.
There’s way too much in the Complaint to list exhaustively. Some of it is circumstantial (which is still evidence), but much of it is direct.
When you hear the Trumper mantra of “collusion is not a crime” and “what are the criminal statutes” refer them to this lawsuit. The lawsuit lists numerous criminal statutes it alleges were violated. They include (note: anything with“18 USC” in the front is from the United States Criminal Code):
- Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 USC 1030(a) (Russian Defendants Only).
- RICO, 18 USC 1962(e) (All Defendants).
- RICO Conspiracy, 18 USC 1962(d) (All Defendants).
- Wiretap Act, 18 USC 2510–22, (Russian Defendants Only).
- Stored Communications Act, 18 USC 2701–12, (Russian Defendants Only).
- Digital Millinnium Copyright Act, 17 USC 1201 et. seq., (Russian Defendants Only).
- Misappropriation of Trade Secrets Under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, 18 USC 1836 et. seq., (Russia Defendants, Wikileaks and Assange Only).
- Washington D.C. Uniform Trade Secrets Act, D.C. Code Ann. 36–401–46–410, (All Defendants).
- Tresspass, D.C. Common Law, (Russia Defendants Only).
- Trespass To Chattels, Virginia Common Law (Russia Defendants Only).
- Conspiracy To Commit Tresspass To Chattels, Virginia Common Law, (All Defendants, aiding and abetting for Trump Campaign defendants).
- Violation of the Computer Crimes Act, Va Code Ann, 18.2–152.5 et. seq., (All Defendants, aiding and abetting for Trump Campaign defendants).
We still aren’t done. By far the most serious allegations against the Trump related defendants are violations of the RICO (for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act. Asserting a claim under the RICO Act requires alleging “predicate offenses.” Predicate offenses are crimes specified by the RICO Act from a list at 18 U.S.C. 1961. The Complaint lists two alleged predicate act offenses, indictable under the RICO Act, applicable to all defendants:
- Economic Espionage, 18 USC 1831.
- Theft of Trade Secrets, 18 USC 1832.
RICO also requires an allegation of a “Racketeering Enterprise” as defined by 18 USC 1961(4). This is an “individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity.” The Complaint alleges the “Trump Campaign was a Racketeering Enterprise” and that all the Defendants participated in it.
Pleading With Particularity.
It should be noted that this Complaint is likely subject to the heightened pleading requirements of Federal Rules of Procedure 9(b), which requires that allegations of fraud be plead with particularity. Rule 9(b) is an exception to the normal rule of “notice pleading” which requires that the Complaint merely give the Defendants reasonable notice of their alleged misconduct. As a minimum, Rule 9(b) requires the Complaint to spell out the specific who, what, when and where of the alleged fraud. In my view the heightened pleading requirement is met.
The DNC lawsuit opens a very interesting new front in the Russia-gate investigation. It’s a new front Trump cannot easily get rid of. Firing Mueller will not make this lawsuit go away.