A federal judge in Washington has tossed out a lawsuit claiming President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign conspired with Russian agents and WikiLeaks to publish emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee.
However, Judge Ellen Huvelle wrote that her ruling was "not based on a finding that there was no collusion between defendants and Russia during the 2016 presidential election."
The ruling came hours after the Senate Intelligence Committee said it agreed with U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian government tried to undercut Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton while promoting Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
Huvelle, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, said the conspiracy claims in the lawsuit centered around meetings between Trump staffers and Russian operatives in New York, making New York the proper place for the lawsuit. New York, however, does not recognize the specific tort claims pressed in the suit.
The suit was filed on behalf of DNC donors Eric Schoenberg and Roy Cockrum and former DNC staffer Scott Comer. It claims the hack invaded their privacy, attempted to inflict emotional distress and violated their right to support the candidate of their choice.
The lawsuit alleges that computer hackers working on behalf of the Russian government hacked into the email systems of the DNC and obtained "voluminous amounts of data," including emails and other documents sent to and from thousands of individuals.
They claim the hack was "part of a deliberate campaign to interfere in the U.S. election and tilt its outcome in favor of Donald Trump" and that the Trump campaign, specifically former operative Roger Stone, conspired with unidentified Russian agents and WikiLeaks to publish hacked emails.
Almost 20,000 emails were published in July 2016, days before the start of the Democratic National Convention. Some suggested that the Democratic National Committee had been working behind the scenes to ensure Clinton was nominated over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz ultimately resigned under pressure amid the ensuing controversy.
Protect Democracy, which filed the suit, said it was examining its options regarding an appeal or refiling somewhere else.
"While we are disappointed in and respectfully disagree with today’s decision from the District Court to dismiss this case on the grounds that it does not belong in Washington, D.C., this case is far from over," the group said in a statement.
U.S. intelligence agencies, in a 2017 report, wrote that Russian President Vladimir Putin "ordered an influence campaign backing Trump in the 2016 election. The report said Moscow had a "clear preference" for Trump and sought to undercut Clinton while also undermining the U.S. democratic process.