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Judge dismisses suit alleging Trump campaign conspired with Russia over hack
A district judge on Tuesday evening tossed out a lawsuit alleging the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians and WikiLeaks to publish hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails during the 2016 presidential race.
Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the suit largely on the basis of jurisdiction, arguing the plaintiffs did not successfully tie the Trump campaign's actions to D.C.
"Campaign meetings, canvassing voters, and other regular business activities of a political campaign do not constitute activities related to the conspiracies alleged in the complaint," Huvelle wrote. "The same is true of the fact that the Trump Campaign's foreign policy team was based in the District. Its mere presence here, without it undertaking overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracies, does not represent a suit-related contact."
Huvelle did not take an official position on the merit of the suit's claims.
"It bears emphasizing that this Court's ruling is not based on a finding that there was no collusion between defendants and Russia during the 2016 presidential election," she wrote. "This is the wrong forum for plaintiffs' lawsuit. The Court takes no position on the merits of plaintiffs' claims."
The ruling was first reported by Politico.
The lawsuit, filed last year by two DNC donors, Roy Cockrum and Eric Schoenberg, and a former DNC employee, Scott Comer, alleged the campaign, along with former Trump adviser Roger Stone, worked with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish their hacked information, thereby violating their privacy.
Their official complaint alleged the campaign "entered into an agreement with other parties, including agents of Russia and WikiLeaks, to have information stolen from the DNC publicly disseminated in a strategic way that would benefit the campaign to elect Mr. Trump as President."
Protect Democracy, the watchdog group that filed the lawsuit, suggested that it would re-file the case elsewhere.
"We will consider our options and will continue to fight to ensure that our clients get the justice they deserve and that the Trump Campaign and its associates will be held accountable for their actions," Ian Bassin, the group's executive director, said following the judge's decision.
U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that the DNC's private servers were hacked by Russian infiltrators in 2016 in an effort to influence the election. Special counsel Robert Mueller, meanwhile, is leading an ongoing investigation into possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Trump and his associates have frequently criticized the investigations and denied any involvement with Russia in trying to sway the election.
Updated: 11:33 a.m.