On Politics: Political stunt or serious lawsuit? (opinion)
Confused about developments in the case of former FBI Director James Comey? News is breaking so rapidly that it’s tough to keep up.
Publicly released copies of his written recollections of meetings with President Trump are so severely redacted that we will have to wait for more information in order to draw any conclusions. However, interviews he gave in connection with his book tour have clarified some bias issues.
In October 2016, when Comey reopened his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s compromise of national security through “extreme carelessness” in handling classified matter she accused him of heading a Republican plot to derail her campaign.
In fact, although Comey was a Republican when President George W. Bush appointed him as head of the FBI, he told ABC reporters earlier this month that he hasn’t been a Republican since 2012.
Indeed Comey’s wife and daughters enthusiastically supported Clinton’s presidential bid. Beyond that it looks like we’ll have to wait for further “Comeygate” developments.
Also of interest was the filing of the Democratic National Committee‘s civil lawsuit against the Trump Campaign, Wikileaks and Russia alleging a conspiracy by all three in the hacking of DNC computers and the public release of embarrassing information about the Democratic Party.
Interestingly this will involve a judicial look at the same evidence and witnesses that the Muller investigation is examining. Maybe the DNC thinks Mueller is going too slow.
You’d think they’d want to forget the facts since Wikileaks’ document release showed the DNC’s bias toward Clinton and against candidate Bernie Sanders. A result was the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and a public chastising of the DNC by its former Chair Donna Brazile. I will endeavor to provide a plain language analysis of the motive for filing this suit.
The first question is whether this is a serious lawsuit. Normally one does not sue a person or entity that is not subject to the court’s jurisdiction. In this case Wikileaks was founded in Iceland, its founder Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and Russia, as a foreign nation, is exempt from U.S. jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
So the first clue will be whether the DNC attempts to establish jurisdiction over Wikileaks or Russia. If not, we can probably regard the suit as a publicity measure to keep the allegations in the public eye as we approach the November midterm election.
In a civil action, unlike a criminal proceeding, any named party can use the court’s authority any time before trial to compel production of evidence and witness’ testimony.
Whether or not the DNC somehow succeeds in establishing the court’s jurisdiction over Wikileaks and/or Russia, it can cast a wide net for discovery of facts from the Trump Campaign just as long as it might lead to admissible evidence. New York Times, Washington Post, stand by for leaks!
The risk is that by availing itself of the jurisdiction of the court the DNC subjects itself to the reach of the Trump Campaign, which also has a right to compel production of evidence and witness’ testimony.
We know that during FBI Director Comey’s 2016 investigation the DNC refused to subject its computers to FBI’s search. Do they want to give the Trump Campaign access they already denied to law enforcement?
Of course if this whole thing goes sideways on the DNC they can always dismiss their lawsuit and all powers to snoop into each other’s records and staffers would just go away, right?
Not if the Trump Campaign lawyers file a cross-complaint against the DNC which would then require both parties’ approval to dismiss. The Trump camp is mulling this over as you are reading this.
Political stunt or serious law suit? Watch for developments.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.