The former US president Donald Trump has filed a suit against his 2016 contender Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party leaders, and others, claiming that a vast conspiracy was hatched to malign his character and cast doubt on his election victory.
Filing the suit on Thursday, Trump claimed that they falsely accused him of colluding with Russia ahead of the 2016 election, to “vilify” him.
According to Bloomberg Quint, the suit claims that as a result of the allegations that he had corrupt ties to Russia and President Vladimir Putin, Trump, his real estate company, and other defendants have racked up at least $24 million in legal expenses, and suffered losses on “existing and future business opportunities”.
There are more than a dozen defendants named in Trump’s complaint, many of whom he has publicly criticised in the past. Among them are former FBI director James Comey, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and former British spy Christopher Steele. The suit, filed under a civil version of a racketeering statute normally used against organised crime, includes many themes from the former president’s speeches and public statements.
The complaint filed in a federal court in Florida alleges that Hillary Clinton and her cohorts, in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, orchestrated a scheme that is shocking to the conscience and goes against the democratic principles of the United States. The complaint alleges that all defendants conspired maliciously to fabricate a narrative that the former president was colluding with a hostile foreign government. “They worked together with a single, self-serving purpose: to vilify Donald J. Trump,” it read.
“The actions taken in furtherance of their scheme — falsifying evidence, deceiving law enforcement, and exploiting access to highly-sensitive data sources — are so outrageous, subversive and incendiary that even the events of Watergate pale in comparison,” added the complaint. In addition to repeatedly claiming that the Steele dossier was fake, the New York Times also concluded that there was no supporting evidence to many of the dossier’s claims. One of the Russian analysts who contributed to the dossier has been indicted in the United States for lying to FBI agents investigating some of its findings. Furthermore, the Perkins Coie law firm, which worked for the Clinton campaign, and Fusion GPS, a private firm that Perkins Coie hired to conduct opposition research, have also been named as defendants.
Nicholas Merrill, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, called the suit “nonsense”. Noteworthy, a declassified January 2017 report found that Russian President Putin directed an influence campaign that “was designed to help bolster the chances of President-elect Trump’s election”. Peter Strzok is another defendant in the suit. He is a former FBI agent, who led the investigation on Russian involvement in the 2016 election, and was fired after his anti-Trump text messages became public. Strzok is suing the FBI for wrongful termination, saying that his personal beliefs are irrelevant and the investigation was justified. According to Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s lawyer, he hadn’t had a chance to read the complaint yet, but it’s odd that he’s suing while the Department of Justice is attempting to quash their subpoena.
In addition to a jury trial, Trump is seeking at least $72 million in damages.
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Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election was also investigated by former special counsel Robert Mueller, who revealed multiple meetings between Trump advisors and Russians. The Mueller investigation did not find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Trump associates and the Russian government, which led Trump to claim “no collusion”.
A report released by a Republican-led Senate panel also revealed multiple contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials, but it did not affirm there was a conspiracy either. One of Trump’s former campaign managers, Paul Manafort, was found to have maintained a long-standing relationship with Konstantin Kilimnik, an alleged Russian intelligence officer, and to have passed on internal campaign information to him.