Trump campaign decries lawsuit claiming Russian link to hacked emails

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign on Thursday rejected as “wild speculation” allegations by three Americans that it conspired with Russians to disseminate their private information from hacked emails to deter them from supporting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

A hearing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia was the first time Trump’s campaign had defended itself in open court against allegations it coordinated with Russians, the subject of investigation by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The campaign is facing at least two lawsuits over allegations it conspired with Russians against Democratic Party candidate Clinton, something Trump has repeatedly denied. Moscow denies the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that it interfered in the election using cyber attacks and disinformation.

The most prominent of the lawsuits was filed earlier this year by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), whose emails were hacked. It also named Russia and Wikileaks as defendants.

Thursday’s hearing involved a private lawsuit against the Trump campaign and Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone by three Americans whose social security numbers and other sensitive data were exposed after hacked DNC emails were released by Wikileaks.

Judge Ellen Huvelle seemed skeptical about whether she might allow the lawsuit to proceed. She questioned the description of the purported conspiracy and whether the people who sued had shown they had been harmed by the release of their private information.

“They can conspire until doomsday, but the guy has to have injuries,” Huvelle said of one of the plaintiffs.

Two are represented by the non-profit Protect Democracy Project and were donors to the Democratic Party, while a third worked for the DNC.

The judge peppered the attorneys for the Protect Democracy Project on whether the case should even be filed in Washington because none of the plaintiffs live in the district and the campaign was based in New York.

Trump campaign lawyer Michael Carvin told the judge that the three Democrats in the lawsuit “can’t give a single fact to support this wild speculation.” Wikileaks made the decision to reveal their social security numbers, Carvin said.

“They don’t allege a single meeting with Wikileaks anywhere. So how in the world can they plausibly allege in a manner that survives … that we were responsible as part of this unnamed vendetta against high-dollar donors to release the social security numbers? It doesn’t’ make any sense,” Carvin said.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Grant McCool)

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