Court Dismisses Democrats' Nutty Lawsuit Against Russia, Wikileaks And Trump Associates

from the phew dept

A little over a year ago we wrote about a truly ridiculous lawsuit filed by the Democratic National Committee against the country of Russia, Wikileaks, the GRU, Julian Assange, the Donald Trump campaign, and a long list of Donald Trump associates, including Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and more. As we discussed in great detail, this was a pro se-level lawsuit full of absolutely crazy legal theories that stood no chance in court, ostensibly over the hacking of the DNC's computers that occurred during the 2016 election. The complaint was mostly a conspiracy theory wrapped in a legal complaint, tossing in absolutely silly CFAA claims, SCA claims, DMCA claims and (because why not?) a RICO claim, despite the fact that it's never RICO.

We predicted that this lawsuit would go nowhere fast, and separately noted that many of the theories the DNC put into the lawsuit represented a very real threat to basic press freedoms. Thankfully, though not surprisingly, federal Judge John Koeltl, has dismissed the case. The order runs over 80 pages, but the judge does a nice job summarizing the many, many faults of the complaint upfront. Let's start with suing Russia. That's not how any of this works.

The primary wrongdoer in this alleged criminal enterprise is undoubtably the Russian Federation, the first named defendant in the case and the entity that surreptitiously and illegally hacked into the computers and thereafter disseminated the results of its theft. But, as explained below, under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1602 et seq. ("FISA"), the Russian Federation cannot be sued in the courts of the United States for governmental actions, subject to certain limited exceptions not present in this case, just as the United States government generally cannot be sued in courts abroad for its actions. The remedies for hostile actions by foreign governments are state actions, including sanctions imposed by the executive and legislative branches of government.

I mean, this seems like basic lawyering 101. You can't just randomly sue foreign governments in the US for state actions. How about all those other defendants? Well, they're not the ones who did anything. And the things they did -- publishing or sharing documents -- is so obviously protected under the First Amendment:

The DNC seeks to hold the second-level participants in this alleged activity -- the Campaign, the Campaign defendants, WikiLeaks, Assange, the Agalarovs, Mifsud, and Stone -- liable for dissemination of the stolen materials. But, as also explained below, the First Amendment prevents such liability in the same way it would preclude liability for press outlets that publish materials of public interest despite defects in the way the materials were obtained so long as the disseminator did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place. The plausible allegations against the remaining defendants are insufficient to hold them liable for the illegality that occurred in obtaining the materials from the DNC. Therefore, for the reasons explained below, the defendants' motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint is granted.

The judge did reject a request by the Trump Campaign for Rule 11 sanctions against the DNC's lawyers, and even if this was obviously a frivolous lawsuit, courts are very, very reluctant to ever issue Rule 11 sanctions unless the activity is incredibly egregious. This dumb lawsuit was just everyday egregious.

The judge here clearly understood all of the myriad problems with the lawsuit, and the long ruling is a masterclass in pointing out how each of the DNC's theories is crazy. Let's start with the First Amendment/freedom of the press issues. It seems clear that the court understood how dangerous this kind of precedent would be. The judge cites the key cases on this issue which are pretty damn well established: the NYTimes v. the United States, which decided that it was protected by the 1st Amendment for the Times to publish the Pentagon Papers, and the more recent Bartnicki v. Vopper, which made it clear that even illegally obtained materials can be released by journalists, so long as the journalists did not participate in the illegal activities to obtain the materials. As the court notes:

As Bartnicki makes clear, there is a significant legal distinction between stealing documents and disclosing documents that someone else had stolen previously.

The DNC tried to get around this by playing the "but RICO!" card, and arguing that there was a grand conspiracy at work, that magically meant that the Trump Campaign and all the associates did participate in the "stealing" of documents. The judge points out this is... not a sound legal theory.

However, the DNC has not alleged that any defendant other than the Russian Federation participated in the hack of the computers or theft of the DNC's documents. The DNC argues that the various meetings and conversations between the defendants in this case and with persons connected to the Russian government during the time that Russian GRU agents were stealing the information show that the defendants conspired with the Russian Federation to steal and disseminate the materials.... That argument is entirely divorced from the facts actually alleged in the Second Amended Complaint.

The judge further points out that just showing certain people met with one another or worked with one another doesn't automatically establish either a conspiracy or anything suggesting that they participated in the illegal obtaining of the DNC's content.

For example, the DNC argues in its opposition to the current motions that the conspiracy between the Russian Federation and the other defendants to hack the computers and steal its electronic information began in March 2016.... However, the only events alleged to have taken place in March 2016 are that Manafort was hired as the Campaign's convention manager, Papadopoulos was hired as a foreign policy advisor, and Papadopoulos met with Mifsud on March 14 and 24. The entirety of the allegations regarding the March meetings between Mifsud and Papadopoulos are that "[o]n March 14, 2016, Mifsud met with Papadopoulos in Italy," and "[o]n March 24, 2016, Mifsud met again with Papadopoulos, this time bringing along a Russian national who was introduced as a relative of Putin." ... Papadoponlos reported back to the Campaign that "his conversation was to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump." These vague references to meetings between Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor to the Campaign, and Mifsud, a London-based academic not officially affiliated with the Russian Federation, do not raise a plausible inference that the defendants agreed to participate with the Russian Federation in hacking the computers and stealing its documents.... To the contrary, Mifsud is alleged to have told Papadapoulos about emails harmful to the Hillary Clinton campaign only after the Russian Federation had hacked the DNC and had those emails in its possession.

The section on Wikileaks shows just how awful the DNC's case really was -- as their own complaint undermined their own argument.

The DNC also repeatedly argues in its brief that WikiLeaks participated in the theft of the DNC documents.... But in the Second Amended Complaint the DNC alleges that WikiLeaks first requested stolen DNC materials from Guccifer 2.0 only after the Russian Federation had already stolen them and after Russian agents began disseminating them through Guccifer 2.0.... The Second Amended Complaint does not allege that WikiLeaks agreed to participate in the theft or that it had any advance knowledge that the Russian Federation was planning to hack the DNC.

The court also points out that the infamous "meeting at Trump Tower" that has been subject to much speculation, happened after the DNC hacking had already occurred, meaning that it couldn't possibly have been held to establish a conspiracy to hack the DNC (and, of course, the DNC has no evidence to suggest, and thus, no allegations, to say that there was any discussion at that meeting of hacking the DNC). In other areas the judge points out that allegations "are even more threadbare." As we said, this is a conspiracy theory disguised as a legal complaint.

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 in the Second Amended Complaint to show that any of the defendants other than the Russian Federation participated in the theft of the information. Nor does the DNC allege that the defendants ever agreed to help the Russian Federation steal the documents. Indeed, the DNC does not raise a factual allegation that suggests that any of the defendants were even aware that the Russian Federation was planning to hack the DNC's computers until after it had already done so. At most, the DNC has alleged that after the Russian Federation stole the documents, Mifsud and the Agalarovs told campaign members about the stolen documents (although it is unclear whether the communications were about stolen DNC documents or generally about documents harmful to Hillary Clinton), WikiLeaks requested the stolen documents and published them, and some of the other defendants welcomed the publication of the documents at times helpful to the Campaign.

And thus, the actions of the others in passing around or publishing those documents later is quite clearly protected under the 1st Amendment.

The judge does separately deal with the issue of Wikileaks. This was the one that most concerned press freedom advocates, and the judge clearly understands the issues:

The argument for liability is strongest against WikiLeaks because it is the only defendant other than the Russian Federation that is alleged to have published the stolen information. The DNC alleges that WikiLeaks solicited stolen documents from the GRU and then coordinated with the GRU and the Campaign defendants to publish the stolen documents at times helpful to the Trump Campaign. Like the defendant in Bartnicki, WikiLeaks did not play any role in the theft of the documents and it is undisputed that the stolen materials involve matters of public concern. However, the DNC argues that this case is distinguishable from Bartnicki because WikiLeaks solicited the documents from the GRU knowing that they were stolen and coordinated with the GRU and the Campaign to disseminate the documents at times favorable to the Trump Campaign. The DNC argues that WikiLeaks should be considered an after-the-fact coconspirator for the theft based on its coordination to obtain and distribute the stolen materials.

As an initial matter, it is constitutionally insignificant that WikiLeaks knew the Russian Federation had stolen the documents when it published them. Indeed, in Bartnicki the Supreme Court noted that the radio host either did know, or at least had reason to know, that the communication at issue was unlawfully intercepted....

And, contrary to the argument, it is also irrelevant that WikiLeaks solicited the stolen documents from Russian agents. A person is entitled publish stolen documents that the publisher requested from a source so long as the publisher did not participate in the theft.... Indeed, the DNC acknowledges that this is a common journalistic practice.

The argument that WikiLeaks can be held liable for the theft as an after-the-fact coconspirator of the stolen documents is also unpersuasive. That argument would eviscerate Bartnicki; such a rule would render any journalist who publishes an article based on stolen information a coconspirator in the theft....

WikiLeaks and its amici argue that holding WikiLeaks liable in this situation would also threaten freedom of the press. The DNC responds that this case does not threaten freedom of the press because WikiLeaks did not engage in normal journalistic practices by, for example, "asking foreign intelligence services to steal 'new material' from American targets." ... The argument misconstrues its own allegations in the Second Amended Complaint. In the Second Amended Complaint, the DNC states that "WikiLeaks sent GRU operatives using the screenname Guccifer 2.0 a private message, asking the operatives to "[s]end any new material [stolen from the DNC] here for us to review.'" ... This was not a solicitation to steal documents but a request for material that had been stolen. Journalists are allowed to request documents that have been stolen and to publish those documents.... Therefore, the DNC cannot hold WikiLeaks or Assange liable for publishing the information that Russian agents stole.

The court then rejects the DNC's argument that "trade secrets" (by which it meant donor lists) are somehow excluded from Bartnicki, and therefore publishing them is not protected by the 1st Amendment. As the court explains, this is a pretty blatant misreading of Bartnicki, which acknowledged that there could be a different calculus when it involved things like trade secrets -- whereas the DNC pretended that Barnicki outright excluded them. Either way, the court says that in this case, the publishing of donor lists is obviously protected by the 1st Amendment:

In this case it is plain that the conclusory allegations that "donor lists" and "fundraising strategies" were among those documents published by WikiLeaks does not provide a basis to overcome the First Amendment. The interest in keeping "donor lists" and "fundraising strategies" secret is dwarfed by the newsworthiness of the documents as whole....

If WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the 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. But that would impermissibly elevate a purely private privacy interest to override the First Amendment interest in the publication of matters of the highest public concern. The published internal communications allowed the American electorate to look behind the curtain of one of the two major political parties in the United States during a presidential election. This type of information is plainly of the type entitled to the strongest protection that the First Amendment offers....

And, as basically anyone with a passing familiarity with how RICO works expected, the court also explicitly rejects the whole RICO nonsense:

The allegations provide no basis to infer either that the alleged AIF members formed an ongoing organization or that the defendants formed a coherent entity that was separate and apart from the predicate acts that allegedly comprise the alleged fraudulent scheme....

This is, in part, because the DNC alleges in conclusory fashion that various individuals and entities have committed acts to further the scheme despite not having any apparent connection to most of the other defendants. The DNC asserts only that there were scattered contacts between the alleged AIF members and does not assert any facts suggesting hierarchy or organization. For example, none of the asserted AIF members are alleged to have participated in the theft of the documents with the Russian Federation or to have even been aware that the Russian Federation was planning such a theft. The Russian Federation published at least some of the documents via Guccifer 2.0, and there is no allegation that any of the defendants participated in that publication. WikiLeaks contacted the GRU to obtain the stolen documents, but there is no indication that any of the other asserted AIF members were aware of this contact.

There's also this:

Moreover, the alleged common goal of the AIF enterprise to get Donald Trump elected is not an unlawful or fraudulent goal.

The final claims in the complaint are dismissed pretty quickly as well. Wiretapping? Wha...? For it to be wiretapping, it has to involve recording something as it happens ("intercepted contemporaneously with transmission") and that did not happen:

There is no allegation that any of the documents provided to WikiLeaks contained communications that were intercepted contemporaneously with transmission. The documents that the Russian Federation disclosed to WikiLeaks are described as reports and documents rather than items that would suggest electronic communications that were recorded simultaneously with their transmission.... In any event, there is no allegation that WikiLeaks was aware that any documents it published were intercepted contemporaneously with transmission.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act claim flops as well. The earlier discussion about publishing trade secrets being protected by the 1st Amendment mostly covers that, but the claim makes even less sense for the other defendants:

The DNC does not allege that any defendant other than the Russian Federation and WikiLeaks possessed or published its alleged trade secrets. However, the DNC argues that the remaining defendants are still liable under the DCUTSA because they "used" the documents after they had been published by WikiLeaks and the Russian Federation. This argument is untenable -- a "trade secret that becomes public knowledge is no longer a trade secret."... That the defendants might have used documents that had already been published by the Russian Federation and WikiLeaks is not an unlawful or improper use of the documents.

As for the computer hacking claims, again, only the Russians did that, and you can't bring them into a US court. The DNC tried to argue that there was "aiding and abetting" by the others, but (1) they then "failed to allege facts showing any defendant aided or abetted the hack into the DNC computer systems," and (2) it doesn't appear that the Virginia Computer Crimes Act (the local state version of the CFAA) even includes liability for aiding and abetting. But, hey, why would that stop the DNC?

The court doesn't even seem to bother with the rather insane copyright claim, which was based on DMCA 1201 -- the anti-circumvention part of the DMCA, in which the DNC argued that the DMCA 1201 acted as a sort of mini-CFAA, because any activity to get around "technical protection measures" is automatically infringing under 1201. But, that theory is so nuts it looks like the court just skipped right over it.

Again, none of this is surprising, but it's nice to see a clear and decisive ruling on this -- and one hopes the DNC and its lawyers just let this one go rather than trying to appeal (a wish that seems unlikely to be fulfilled). It's possible this case is more about politics than any legal theory (because there is no reasonable legal theory here), but if so that's even more abusive of the federal judicial system.

Filed Under: 1st amendment, conspiracy, donald trump, free speech, freedom of the press, hacking, jared kushner, julian assange, paul manafort, rico, russia
Companies: dnc, wikileaks


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  • identicon
    Dumpf, 31 Jul 2019 @ 11:08am

    This proves no collusion!

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 11:09am

    despite the fact that it's never RICO).

    You're closing a paren here that was never opened.

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 11:17am

    The judge did reject a request by the Trump Campaign for Rule 11 sanctions against the DNC's lawyers, and even if this was obviously a frivolous lawsuit, courts are very, very reluctant to ever issue Rule 11 sanctions unless the activity is incredibly egregious. This dumb lawsuit was just everyday egregious.

    ...which is probably why egregious lawsuits are an everyday thing.

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    • icon
      nerd bert (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 9:59am

      Re:

      I get it. Judges like to have their say, but lowering the bar even just a little to make Rule 11 sanctions more widely imposed would clear a lot of worthless suits out of the courts and help folks who can't afford to risk a lawsuit avoid their inherent threat.

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    Zof (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:00pm

    It was good theater at least

    Now that Mueller has been eviscerated on CSPAN and we know for a proven fact it was all a hoax, it's good to look back with gentler eyes and just laugh at how theatrical the delusional folks were.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:13pm

      Re: It was good theater at least

      we know for a proven fact it was all a hoax

      And where's your proof?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:45pm

        Re: Gold medal level mental gymnast at least

        CSPAN apparently. That or he can’t accept facts as they are because the cognitive dissonance contained within would melt his brain like a snowflake on a hot griddle.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:15pm

      Re: It was good theater at least

      Now that Mueller has been eviscerated on CSPAN and we know for a proven fact it was all a hoax

      Asserts facts very much not in evidence.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:23pm

      Re: It was good theater at least

      Certainly a lot of convictions and guilty pleas for a hoax.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        tom (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:42pm

        Re: Re: It was good theater at least

        Zero charges or convictions for Russian Collusion which was the alleged original point of the investigation.

        List so far includes: Lying to Federal Officials, Tax Evasion, Bank Fraud, Conspiracy to Defraud, and Violations of Campaign Finance Rules.

        Guessing if we did a equally in depth investigation of all 535 Congress critters and their staffers, we would wind up with hundreds of similar charges.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: It was good theater at least

          Perhaps that needs to happen. Personally I do agree with Trump's drain the Swamp mentality. But he would be my last choice to implement it. I didn't like him before he ran for president due to all the scandals he has been in and lives he has ruined.

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          • icon
            Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 6:44am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It was good theater at least

            I don't like him now for the same reason, and the fact that the swamp is now much swampier than before.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:51pm

          Re: It’s not “alleged” if it’s true.

          Ken Star set out to find out about a real estate deal. That’s how these things work. The collusion as such, might not be illegal in and of itself. So we are rather unlikely to see a conviction for that. That’s a great whatabout... And is more likely than not true. We eagerly await your investigative findings. Here’s a handy link for you when you are done. https://www.techdirt.com/submitstory.php

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 1:21pm

          Zero charges or convictions for Russian Collusion

          Let’s be clear about something: “Collusion” is not what Trump and his lackeys would’ve been charged with. While it may be synonymous with “conspiracy”, it isn’t an actual offense listed in federal criminal law. Moreover, you’re ignoring another part of the Mueller Report — specifically, the part about obstruction.

          Mueller reported that he could not assemble sufficient evidence to charge anyone in the Trump campaign with criminal conspiracy. One reason for that outcome is Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman. Manafort was also feeding campaign information to a Russian intelligence operative during the campaign. Honest testimony from Manafort might have told Mueller and his team exactly what Russia wanted to know. He possibly could have told investigators what Russia did with that information. Manafort even agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation at one point. But he ultimately lied to investigators, for reasons known only to him, and thus obstructed the truth of the matter. The real story is not “no collusion, no obstruction”, but “we have insufficient evidence of conspiracy because obstruction succeeded”.

          Even if — if! — Trump and his cronies didn’t criminally conspire with the Russians, they still obstructed the investigation into their meetings and interactions with Russians. Ask yourself why they had all those interactions, then ask yourself why they lied about it. If the answers don’t sound like an attempt at obstructing justice to you, I’d love to know your reasoning for that conclusion.

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          • icon
            tom (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 5:12pm

            Re:

            IMO - Obstruction is one of those made up crimes law enforcement loves to bring when they can't find evidence of an actual crime, in this case Collusion. If Collusion isn't a crime, then what exactly was the point of the investigation? Could it be that Trump is right and it WAS a witch hunt? Remember, it was Trump's DOJ that appointed the special prosecutor. Trump turned over most every document asked for. Don't remember him invoking Executive Privilege. Not exactly a shining case for obstructing an investigation.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 5:29pm

              Re: Re:

              “Obstruction is one of those made up crimes”

              Tell that to Bill Clinton.

              “If Collusion isn't a crime, then what exactly was the point of the investigation?”

              The Special Counsel investigation was an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and suspicious links between Trump associates and Russian officials, conducted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller from May 2017 to March 2019. Wikipedia

              “Could it be that Trump is right and it WAS a witch hunt?”

              No

              Now do you have any other extremely stupid notions I can disabuse you of?

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 6:12pm

              Obstruction is one of those made up crimes

              And yet, if you were found guilty of obstructing a federal criminal investigation, you’d be tossed in an actual prison for that “made-up crime”.

              If Collusion isn't a crime, then what exactly was the point of the investigation?

              The investigation was initially about whether the Trump presidential campaign conspired with Russian nationals to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. It eventually launched a side investigation about whether members of that campaign obstructed the original investigation into the potential Trump/Russia conspiracy. Oh, and FYI: While “collusion” isn’t a crime per se, “conspiracy to commit a crime” — which is synonymous with “collusion” — most certainly is.

              Could it be that Trump is right and it WAS a witch hunt?

              Why did people associated the Trump campaign have numerous interactions with Russian officials, Russian oligarchs, and other people connected to Vladimir Putin? When those campaign officials (including Trump) were asked about those interactions, why did they all lie? Until you can provide solid answers to those two questions, the Mueller investigation cannot be considered a “witch hunt”. At best, it can be considered an investigation into a possible criminal conspiracy to swing an election for a specific candidate that was stalled by several instances of obstruction.

              Trump turned over most every document asked for. Don't remember him invoking Executive Privilege.

              I don’t remember him testifying in person for Mueller, either. I do remember him lying about his helping draft the statement Don Jr. gave about his Trump Tower meeting with Russians, though — a meeting that both Trump and his son initially said never happened, by the by.

              Not exactly a shining case for obstructing an investigation.

              Obstruction can be more than outright lying. You can coöperate with an investigation to a point, yet still leave out vital information or hide vital evidence because maybe it implicates you in, shall we say, high crimes and misdemeanors. A lie of omission is still a lie, and it still obstructs justice.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2019 @ 6:29am

              Re: Re:

              All you're proving here is that you haven't actually read the report, of course.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 3:57pm

          Re: Re: Re: It was good theater at least

          If everyone around Trump is ending up in jail, what does that say about your savior?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 6:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It was good theater at least

            If everyone around Trump is ending up in jail, what does that say about your savior?

            It says the Trump really really likes to hire and work with criminals.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:42pm

        Re: Re: It was good theater at least

        Also, what facts are you talking about. The things I got our of the Mueller hearing was

        1. Mueller was very careful on how he answered his questions.
        2. Majority of Republicans like to preach about how terrible the investigation was instead of ask questions.
        3. Trump wasn't exonerated and if wasn't the president would be convicted for obstruction of justice and still could be convicted when he leaves office.
        4. There was and is continuing Russian interference.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        identicon
        S. L. Easy, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:47pm

        Re: Re: It was good theater at least

        Certainly a lot of convictions and guilty pleas for a hoax.

        This is the fallback position.

        Try to get this clear for once, kids:

        After two years investigation by dedicated attack dog who wanted badly to find any tiny hook to hang a charge on, and millions of dollars spent, 500 witnesses, there is ZERO linked to Trump or campaign.

        And by the way, the "Concord Management" case will end in acquital disgracing Mueller too, he brought that thinking no one would show up, wouldn't ever be contested.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:56pm

          Re: I look foreword to you running away from this too bawk!

          Hey bro. Half his campaign is in jail. So much for zero links. And by the way let’s look at some of you other predictions. Section 230 will be repealed, Shiva will win his case, sOPa and cISpa will pass, Prenda et. All will win, they will win their appeal, the judge in the case will be disbarred, and hundreds more. So not holding my breath. Which by the way Mike totally says you should never do near sharp objects.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 1:06pm

          I have two questions that none of you rat bastards can never seem to answer:

          1. Why did Trump’s people have so many interactions with Russian officials, Russian oligarchs, and other people connected to Vladimir Putin?

          2. When they were asked about those interactions, why did they all lie?

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 1:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: It was good theater at least

          You fail to understand that the Mueller investigation was a resounding success. It was dragged out beyond the 2018 election before revealing a dud, but all the totally-unrelated prosecutions (and leaks to the press) against people connected to Trump were finished and done before the 2018 election. The result was a huge win for Democrats, with many voters left hanging with the mistaken conclusion that Trump was essentially guilty of high treason.

          and it's not hard to figure out that had the Mueller Report come out before the 2018 election (zero chance of that for obvious reasons) it's quite possible that the Republicans would have held control of Congress.

          No, it was not a failure but a huge "mission accomplished!"

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 1:27pm

            Trump may not be guilty of treason (we’ll probably never know for sure unless Manafort spills his guts), but he is at the least on the hook for criminal obstruction into a federal investigation. If and when he leaves office¹, he can be charged with such crimes without the DOJ dropping that responsibility on Congress.


            ¹ — I say “if” because Trump has “joked” about staying in office longer than the two-term limit. Given his proclivities in re: interacting with and kissing the asses of dictators and autocrats, I consider those “jokes” to be threats until he is out of office.

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            • icon
              nerd bert (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 10:24am

              Re:

              If I may parrot Popehat for a moment:

              "Treason." "Logan Act." "RICO." "Slander." All modern terms meaning "I am upset by this."

              Treason, as defined in the Constitution, is a very narrowly defined crime that's nearly impossible commit when no war has been declared. There are crimes you could accuse PDT of committing, but treason is not one.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2019 @ 1:23pm

                Re: Re:

                Good point. I think when people here are saying “Treason” the crime(s) that they are referring to are most likely espionage and/or sedition.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 1:29pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It was good theater at least

            “with many voters left hanging with the mistaken conclusion that Trump was essentially guilty of high treason.”

            Thats not a mistake. Just basic pattern recognition.

            “but all the totally-unrelated prosecutions”

            You of course mean “totally-related” Because there’s been a ton of them both completed and still ongoing.
            I’m sure that’s just a typo and not a deliberate obfuscation bro.

            “zero chance of that for obvious reasons”

            It wasn’t done yet, obviously.

            I’d keep ripping your silly bullshit to shreds but I got work to do and more distinguished orators TAC and Me Stone will to a more more thorough and articulate job of emasculating your argument.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2019 @ 5:26am

          Re: Re: Re: It was good theater at least

          there is ZERO linked to Trump or campaign.

          Apart from:

          • His national security adviser
          • His deputy campaign manager
          • One of his foreign policy advisers
          • His lawyer
          • His former campaign chair

          Or "zero" for you mathematically challenged fucktards.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:39pm

      Re: AC tells the truth, zof is a liar; Don’t be like zof

      It’s not that your a lie that’s bothersome. It’s that you are really, really, stupendously bad at it, that’s annoying.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:17pm

    but... but...

    I keep being told by commenters here that Techdirt is a leftist/Democratic conspiracy. How can you be happy about this result??????

    It's almost as if this site isn't actually driven by party loyalty, no matter what the trolls say.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      S. L. Easy, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:42pm

      Re: but... MM runs pieces adverse to DNC only AFTER totally flop

      "AC", to "prove" that Techdirt is objective is exactly the effect that cynical Masnick intends.

      Of course if had gone anywhere, Masnick would cheer.

      But no matter what he says now, won't have any effect.

      So Masnick cynically salvages a slight upside to enhance credibility, as you so handily point out for those it might be lost on!

      Certainly a supportive bunch of commenters here, who are concerned about Techdirt's cred and try to support any way can...

      By the way: several fanboys are still clinging to the "Trump-Russia collusion", which after Mueller FLOPPED last week. TWO YEARS and millions of dollars TURNED UP ZERO! Let's see you admit that was entirely fabrication by Clinton / Deep State, Masnick.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:58pm

        Re: Do you get like a medal, or a pin, or a trophy?

        “Let's see you admit that was entirely fabrication by Clinton / Deep State, Masnick.”

        Congrats Mike you’re part of the Clinton Deep State One Hour Dry Cleaning And Pizzaria Franchise!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 2:51pm

        Re: Re:

        "AC"

        Says the AC.

        Of course if had gone anywhere, Masnick would cheer.

        No, because if you had clicked the link to the original article he wrote about the lawsuit a year ago, you would see that he was hoping it would be tossed from the beginning. You fail miserably at trying to twist things when the truth is in plain sight.

        But no matter what he says now, won't have any effect.

        On what?

        So Masnick cynically salvages a slight upside to enhance credibility, as you so handily point out for those it might be lost on!

        And as I pointed out, he was hoping for this outcome from the outset. In fact, he considers this not a slight upside but a massive win.

        Certainly a supportive bunch of commenters here, who are concerned about Techdirt's cred and try to support any way can

        Or you're a liar and we're just pointing it out.

        several fanboys are still clinging to the "Trump-Russia collusion", which after Mueller FLOPPED last week

        I'm sorry, where was it in the report where Mueller stated "We found zero evidence of collusion and as such exonerate the president of all such accusations"? Oh that's right, there wasn't any such statement. In fact he stated this: "the finding indicates that the president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed".

        TWO YEARS and millions of dollars TURNED UP ZERO! Let's see you admit that was entirely fabrication by Clinton / Deep State, Masnick.

        It literally does not matter. Regardless of whether he committed a crime or not, there was sufficient evidence to suggest the possibility of wrongdoing. At that point an investigation is pretty much mandatory. What you are saying is no different than saying if you find a severed hand and a trail of blood leading to your neighbors property and he comes to the door with blood on his shirt denying anything is wrong, that there's no reason to call the police on suspicion of murder, or at least violent assault.

        Even if your neighbor is innocent, the evidence suggests something alarming happened and it should be looked into to A) prove your neighbor's innocence if he is, B) arrest the committer of a crime so he can't continue to commit crimes, and C) protect your neighborhood.

        Come back to reality. It misses you.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 4:05pm

          The village called, they said you can keep the idiot

          Come back to reality. It misses you.

          No, no it really doesn't.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 5:40pm

            Re: The village called, they said you can keep the idiot

            Dear god, it really doesn't. The last thing we need is copyright polluting the gene pool.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:56pm

    I mean, this seems like basic lawyering 101. You can't just randomly sue foreign governments in the US for state actions.

    That's what Iran and Libya once thought, until learning otherwise (and Gaddafi was a complete idiot for thinking that paying those billions would grant him any favors from the US in return, even the "favor" of a quick and humane execution). The 911 lawsuit against Saudi Arabia was also allowed to proceed. And we'll have to wait and see what happens to yet another lawsuit against Germany winding its way through the US courts, this one even older than the Nazis.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/07/court-hears-case-germany-namibia-genocide-180731201918 543.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bobob, 31 Jul 2019 @ 2:18pm

    The DNC is one of the biggest obstacles to people running as democrats.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 2:31pm

    You can't just randomly sue foreign governments in the US for state actions.

    They should have probably filed an ISDS claim somewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 7:57pm

    Just 1...

    Arnt there allot of LAWYERS in the DNC???
    Or is this Kindergarten??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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