“Former” President Donald Trump on Thursday filed a $24 million federal lawsuit alleging that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee launched a wide-ranging “unthinkable plot” in 2016 to smear him and his campaign as colluding with Russian officials.
In the suit, filed in the Southern District of Florida, Trump claims the goal was to fabricate a scandal in an effort to “cripple” his bid for the presidency.
“In the run up to the 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton and her cohorts orchestrated an unthinkable plot — one that shocks the conscience and is an affront to this nation’s democracy,” he says in the 108-page complaint.
“Acting in concert, the Defendants maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty.”
The 45th president alleges that the scheme concocted by Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, and others falsified evidence, deceived law enforcement and exploited “access to highly-sensitive data sources” — and was “so outrageous, subversive and incendiary that even the events of Watergate pale in comparison.”
Using the guise of opposition research and data analytics — an apparent nod to the highly controversial Christopher Steele dossier — Clinton and the Democrats sought to “sway the public’s trust,” according to the filing.
“They worked together with a single, self-serving purpose: to vilify Donald J. Trump. Indeed, their far-reaching conspiracy was designed to cripple Trump’s bid for presidency by fabricating a scandal that would be used to trigger an unfounded federal investigation and ignite a media frenzy,” claims the suit, filed nearly six years after the election in which he defeated Clinton, claims.
The scheme was “conceived, coordinated and carried out by top-level officials at the Clinton Campaign and the DNC — including ‘the candidate’ herself — who attempted to shield her involvement behind a wall of third parties,” the suit says.
In a footnote, the legal papers identified the Justice Department, the Office of the Inspector General, the four FISA applications and “Crossfire Hurricane” — the code name given to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into possible links between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.
Clinton and the other Democrats “blinded by political ambition” masterminded the plot to spread false information about then-candidate Trump, “all in the hopes of destroying his life, his political career and rigging the 2016 Presidential Election in favor of Hillary Clinton,” the suit alleges.
When the scheme failed and Trump was elected, the Democrats shifted their focus to eat away at the credibility of the Trump administration, the filings says.
“Worse still, the Defendants continue to spread their vicious lies to this day as they unabashedly publicize their thoroughly debunked falsehoods in an effort to ensure that he will never be elected again,” the former president says in the suit.
The complaint also alleges that the Democrats violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, among other offenses. Trump is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, claiming that he was “forced to incur expenses in an amount to be determined at trial, but known to be in excess of twenty-four million dollars ($24,000,000) and continuing to accrue, in the form of defense costs, legal fees, and related expenses.”
Along with Clinton and the DNC, the lawsuit names as defendants former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, the law firm Perkins Coie, the research firm Fusion GPS, former FBI officials Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and Christopher Steele, the ex-British intelligence agent who authored dossier.
Trump has long accused Democrats and the Clinton campaign of conspiring to link him to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election — the subject of unsuccessful impeachment proceedings against Trump when he was in office.
But a heavily redacted report issued in August 2020 by the Republican-led Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded that Russia was behind a plot to subvert the integrity of the 2016 elections, an effort that “represents one of the single most grave counterintelligence threats to American national security in the modem era.”
“The Committee found that the Russian government engaged in an aggressive, multifaceted effort to influence, or attempt to influence, the outcome of the 2016 presidential election,” the panel said in the 966-page report.
The report also said former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who had wide connections with pro-Russian officials in Ukraine, worked with the WikiLeaks website to help Trump win in 2016. The Senate committee’s findings, like the report issued by special counsel Robert Mueller in May 2019, did not conclude that Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government.
But Mueller’s investigation found that the Trump campaign was “receptive” to Russian help.