The chairman of the Democratic National Committee defended the party’s lawsuit against Russia and President Trump’s campaign, calling it a necessary move to deter Russia from meddling in future elections.
The DNC on Friday sued the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the website WikiLeaks, charging that they engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy to influence the 2016 election and hurt the Democrats.
“We have to deter misconduct. We’ve got elections coming up in November. It’s hard to win elections when you have interference in elections. And they’ve done it with impunity. And I’m concerned that it’s going to happen again,” DNC chair Tom Perez said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s why we did it now.”
The multi-million dollar lawsuit charges that the Russian government conspired with the Trump campaign to hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by hacking the e-mails of DNC staffers, which were then released through WikiLeaks.
The suit has faced criticism including from some Democrats, who say it is poorly timed and sufficient evidence of collusion has not yet been unearthed.
Democratic strategist David Axelrod called it “spectacularly ill-timed,” saying it would play into Trump’s hands by making a separate criminal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference and possible collusion look partisan.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) on CNN called the suit an “ill-conceived idea” that’s “not in the interest of the American people.”
“I think we have a very serious criminal activity underway in this country by the Russians and possibly by those within the Trump campaign, and to make this political is actually the wrong thing to be doing,” she said.
But Perez said the suit and the Mueller probe could proceed concurrently.
“I don’t know when Director Mueller’s investigation is going to end, so we need to file now to protect our rights,” he said.
“We’ve done our homework. Over the course of the last year, we have seen story after story, brick after brick in the conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign to affect the outcome of the election. I did my homework. We have a strong case. That’s why we brought it.”
Other critics have said the DNC shouldn’t be shelling out cash on a legal battle when there are upcoming midterm elections to spend on.
Perez said he did not know how much the suit would cost.
“I don’t know the amount of money that it will take. But I’ll tell you, it’s hard to put a price tag on preserving democracy,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The DNC chair also said he had not consulted Clinton about bringing the suit.
“We can’t afford not to do this,” he said.
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