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It was a Friday, April 20, 2018. News broke that the Democratic National Committee had filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit over their 2016 election loss. The organization was attempting to sue President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, the Russian government, Wikileaks, and a host of other people for allegedly stealing the election and hacking DNC emails.
Later that night, even CNN mocked the lawsuit, with host Brooke Baldwin asking the network’s chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, “How much of this do you think is just a stunt versus a pretty smart ploy for the court of public opinion?” Borger replied, “A 100 percent stunt, 100 percent. They want to get in the act, obviously. They want to keep the story moving. This is nothing new.”
Not much has been reported on the case since then, but a look at the court files reveals steady filings over the past year. On Tuesday, the Trump campaign filed a motion for sanctions, insisting the DNC violated “its certification that all of its ‘factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.’”
The Trump campaign argues that the DNC’s claims were “definitively refuted” by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report on his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to steal the election. The campaign lists two examples of specific claims in the DNC lawsuit that were refuted by the Mueller report.
For example, the DNC claimed in their lawsuit that Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos told multiple people on the campaign what Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud had told him — “that the Russians had ‘thousands of emails’ that could harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.” In the end, the Mueller report stated that neither Papadopoulos, nor anyone who interacted with him on the campaign, could remember such information being shared. But here’s the kicker, from the Mueller report: “No documentary evidence, and nothing in the email accounts or other communications facilities reviewed by the Office, shows that Papadopoulos shared this information with the Campaign.” Yet the DNC claimed it had, or would have, such evidence of Papadopoulos’ interactions.
In another example, the DNC lawsuit claimed the infamous Trump Tower meeting resulted in Trump campaign officials accepting help from the Russians (who were actually working with Democrat opposition research firm Fusion GPS). The lawsuit claimed that Russian government officials “used the meeting to tell members of the Trump Campaign about the documents it had stolen from the DNC, including trade secrets” and “members of the Campaign blessed a plan in which Russia would continue stealing similar documents and disseminate the documents it already had to the public.”
Again, the Mueller report found this to be untrue. The report found that the meeting lasted about 20 minutes and involved discussions of alleged “funds derived from illegal activities in Russia [that] were provided to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats,” and “a critique of the origins of” the Magnitsky Act, which “imposed financial and travel sanctions on Russian officials and that resulted in a retaliatory ban on adoptions of Russian children.” Further, the Mueller report didn’t find evidence the meeting ever included a discussion of Clinton’s hacked emails or stolen DNC documents.
As the Trump campaign’s motion stated, “the foregoing are only examples; the Report renders many other allegations in the Second Amended Complaint untenable.”
The Trump campaign is demanding sanctions be imposed against the DNC, including a dismissal of their complaint against the campaign with prejudice, reimbursing the campaign’s legal fees, and “any additional sanctions that the Court deems just and proper.”