MANHATTAN (CN) – The Trump campaign asked a federal court in New York on Tuesday to sanction the Democratic National Committee for continuing to pursue a racketeering lawsuit accusing it of conspiring with Russia – because special counsel Robert Mueller stopped short of that conclusion in his report.
“Special Counsel Mueller’s historically expansive investigation definitively refuted the notion that the campaign conspired or in any way coordinated with Russia,” the campaign’s attorney Michael Carvin wrote in a 23-page brief filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
“In an over-400-page Report, the Special Counsel not only explains that his investigation ‘did not establish’ any such conspiracy or coordination, but debunks any such conclusion by walking through the vast body of evidence that his Office collected and establishing that none of this evidence showed that the campaign formed any sort of agreement with Russia,” it continues.
The Trump campaign alleges that the report so self-evidently clears the president of collusion that the Democrats should be sanctioned for every day they continue to pursue the lawsuit.
“The Special Counsel’s Report has gutted the DNC’s claims against the campaign, putting the DNC in violation of Rule 11 every day it refuses to acknowledge that reality and drop those claims,” the campaign’s memo states.
The Trump campaign first indicated that it would pursue sanctions in a letter earlier last month.
A little more than two weeks later, the Democrats’ attorney Joseph Sellers replied that such a “wholly groundless” gambit would backfire.
“Contrary to your May 13, 2019 letter, the Special Counsel’s report does not ‘refute’ the DNC’s claim that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia,” Sellers wrote on Sunday. “Rather, the report methodically compiles evidence that the Trump campaign participated in Russia’s plan to interfere in the 2016 election.”
Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. was one of the dozens of entities and people the Democrats sued on April 20, 2018, nearly a full year before Mueller released his report on Russian interference in the U.S. presidential elections.
The Russian Federation, Kremlin operatives, WikiLeaks, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, and Roger Stone are also named as defendants.
Seeking to turn the tables on the litigation, the Trump campaign cited a partial sentence from the introduction to Mueller’s first volume, which has also been selectively quoted by attorney general William Barr.
The complete sentence indicates that the Trump campaign expected to benefit from Russia’s help.
“Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” the report states.
Mueller also found that efforts to interfere his investigation – fulsomely documented in the second volume of the report, which details possible obstruction of justice – may have prevented his office from establishing such coordination.
When Barr released his initial memo about the Mueller report, Trump claimed it represented his “Complete and Total EXONERATION.” The president has since sought to designate the Mueller report a state secret and discredit the career prosecutor who wrote it.
On Sunday, Sellers warned the Trump campaign that pursuing sanctions could itself be sanctionable.
“Given the manifest deficiencies in the campaign’s letter, we remind the campaign that ‘the filing of a [Rule 11] motion for sanctions is itself subject to the requirements of the rule and can lead to sanctions,’” Sellers wrote. “Rather than engage in this needless and wholly unfounded litigation over sanctions, the parties should proceed with the adjudication of the pending motions to dismiss and, should those motions be denied, embark on discovery and the ultimate trial of this action.”