A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit on Tuesday from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) against members of President Trump’s campaign, WikiLeaks and the Russian government. The lawsuit claimed that these parties conspired together to hack the DNC emails and sabotage the 2016 election.
The dismissal comes after Robert Mueller’s testimony before congress, the Senate Intelligence report that found no concrete evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election and Dan Coats’ resignation as Director of National Intelligence. Coats was a firm believer in the idea that Russia attacked our democracy in 2016.
Judge John Koeltl, a Clinton appointee, said, “In short, the DNC raises a number of connections and communications between the defendants and with people loosely connected to the Russian Federation, but at no point does the DNC allege any facts … to show that any of the defendants — other than the Russian Federation — participated in the theft of the DNC’s information.”
Koeltl also pointed out the danger of holding a publisher like WikiLeaks liable, “If WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet.”
Koeltl cited the infamous Pentagon Papers in his ruling, the case when the Supreme Court ruled The New York Times and The Washington Post were protected by the first amendment for publishing information leaked to them by Daniel Ellsberg about the US government’s role in the Vietnam War. This ruling by Koeltl could be helpful to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who may be extradited to the US and charged under the Espionage Act for publishing classified material.
Although Koeltl does believe it was the Russian government who hacked the DNC, he holds firm that federal law prohibits suits against foreign governments except in “highly specific circumstances.”
Koeltl also said even if Trump’s campaign did obtain these documents from the Russian government, they would be breaking no laws if they published them.