In April the Democratic National Committee (DNC) filed a novel lawsuit against WikiLeaks alleging they were part of a global conspiracy to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It is widely believed that by publishing hacked emails from the DNC and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign WikiLeaks hurt Clinton and helped Trump become president.
The hacked emails came back into the public eye in June when special counsel Robert Mueller issued 12 new indictments against Russian military intelligence officers working for Vladimir Putin. The substance of the indictments is that the Russians illegally hacked into the DNC servers and illegally stole emails and other proprietary documents.
Three months after filing the lawsuit the DNC has still not been successful in its attempts to serve WikiLeaks as is required in order to get the lawsuit started. If WikiLeaks can continue to avoid being served notice of the lawsuit then the lawsuit can never begin.
So now CBS News has reported that the DNC is trying a unique new approach to get its lawsuit notice served to WikiLeaks.
According to the CBS report, the DNC filed a motion Friday in federal court in Manhattan seeking the court’s permission for them to serve legal notice to WikiLeaks via the social media platform Twitter. According to language in the motion, service of process via Twitter should be allowed because WikiLeaks regularly uses the website and would be sure to see the notice of the lawsuit if it were posted there.
“Because WikiLeaks has more of a virtual than a physical presence, the court can and should exercise its authority … to authorize service by Twitter,” the motion reads.
The original lawsuit filed in April alleged violations of federal copyright laws and the Trade Secrets Act. Since WikiLeaks does not have a known physical location the DNC is arguing that their lawsuit can only be served electronically. The motion filed with the court lists all of the many attempts the DNC made to serve the lawsuit via email since April 20. Since all of those emails were rejected service has never occurred and the lawsuit cannot move forward.
The DNC lawsuit could be very important because it alleges that there was an illegal conspiracy. It says that the Russian hacking (which was the subject of the June indictments) when combined with communications between WikiLeaks and top Trump campaign officials created an illegal conspiracy which was not only a crime but caused damages to the DNC.
Whether or not they are ever found guilty of a crime, the DNC may be able to prove damages in a civil lawsuit, so it is very important to them that the lawsuit proceed on a timely basis.
The DNC would like the lawsuit to begin before November’s midterm elections, but it is increasingly unlikely that this will occur given the delays.
Just before the 2016 U.S. presidential election WikiLeaks made public 20,000 private DNC emails most of which were related to Hillary Clinton and her campaign. They also released thousands of emails belonging to John Podesta, Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman. It is widely believed that the public release of internal Clinton campaign documents hurt her chances of winning the 2016 election.