Last week, Donald Trump took a 280-character victory lap to celebrate his supposed victory in a lawsuit accusing his campaign of colluding with Russia.
But there’s just one problem. Trump didn’t “win” this courtroom battle at all. Rather, a federal judge concluded that the United States District Court for the District of Columbia wasn’t the proper venue for the lawsuit.
Last summer, two Democratic donors and a former Democratic National Committee staffer sued the Trump campaign, contending that the Trump campaign was ultimately responsible for their private information being blasted out by Russian hackers. Protect Democracy, one of many bipartisan groups formed to combat Trump, worked with the plaintiffs to bring this suit forward.
In throwing out their suit last week, federal judge Ellen Huvelle stressed that her ruling could not and should not be seen as a finding that there was no collusion between Trump and the Kremlin. Rather, she concluded that there was no way for a federal court in D. C. to assert any kind of jurisdiction over the Trump campaign.
Undaunted, Protect Democracy vowed to refile their lawsuit. They made good on that promise just as Trump was touching down in London on Thursday.
Read the revised complaint here. It was filed in a federal court in Richmond, Virginia. That may seem like a surprise on the face of it, given that the Trump campaign is headquartered at Trump Tower in Manhattan. But it turns out that it is incorporated in Glen Allen, a Richmond suburb. Therefore, federal courts in Virginia have jurisdiction.
Two of the plaintiffs, Episcopal monk-turned-philanthropist Roy Cockrum and retired diplomat Eric Schoenberg, contend that their personal information–including their Social Security numbers–was scooped up when Russian hackers slithered into the DNC’s computers. That information was ultimately blasted out to the world via WikiLeaks, and was widely touted by Trump and others in the summer and fall of 2016. As a result, they have been victims of identity theft on numerous occasions.
The other plaintiff, Scott Comer, was one of six staffers on the DNC’s finance team whose emails were stolen and published on WikiLeaks. He claims that the publication of those emails strained and even ended a number of relationships, and made it difficult for him to find work in political finance. He also received a number of threatening phone calls.
The lawsuit accuses the Trump campaign and its operatives of working hand in glove with “those in control of the hacked materials” in order to find ways to use them “to (the) greatest political effect.” In return, Trump reportedly promised to make a number of concessions to Russian interests both during the campaign and in office.
The plaintiffs allege that by blasting out their information, the Trump campaign violated longstanding federal civil rights law that makes it illegal to target someone because of their participation in a presidential election. They also contend that releasing the hacked information violated the privacy laws of Tennessee, New Jersey, and Maryland. Cockrum lives in Tennessee, Schoenberg lives in New Jersey, and Comer lived in Maryland at the time of the election.
John McKay, the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington for most of George W. Bush’s presidency and one of many Republicans advising Protect Democracy, thinks that there may very well be a there there in this lawsuit. He said that in his experience, “most conspiracy cases begin with circumstantial evidence.”
Looks like when Trump returns from Europe, he’ll discover that he spiked the football far too soon.
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