Trump Campaign Lawyers: Russia Collusion is Free Speech

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

A small group of Democratic donors and one DNC employee recently filed a lawsuit against the Trump campaign and Trump's lifelong henchman Roger Stone for violating their privacy by stealing and releasing their emails in 2016.

Trump campaign lawyers are now trying to have the case thrown out of court because, according to them, colluding with Russia is protected by the First Amendment.

But the Trump campaign—represented by Jeffrey Baltruzak, Michael A. Carvin, Nikki L. McArthur, and Vivek Suri, all of the law firm Jones Day—responded in a brief filed Tuesday that the campaign can’t be held legally responsible for WikiLeaks’s publication of the DNC emails.

Furthermore, the Trump lawyers argued, the First Amendment protects the campaign’s “right to disclose information—even stolen information—so long as (1) the speaker did not participate in the theft and (2) the information deals with matters of public concern.”

What qualifies as a matter of public concern?

I don't believe John Podesta's risotto recipe qualifies, but the Trump campaign lawyers aren't making that case. They're using unsubstantiated talking points straight from Trump and even Bernie Sanders.

“Indeed, the disclosed emails dealt pervasively with important public issues. They revealed the Democratic Party’s conduct during its presidential primaries—which are public processes ‘structur[ed] and monitor[ed]’ by the state. They revealed the DNC’s interactions with rich donors—educating citizens about the influence of ‘moneyed interests.’ And they revealed the closeness of the party’s ties to the media.”

I can't sit here and say that Trump is primarily responsible for spreading the myth that the DNC somehow rigged the 2016 primary.

Trump has done his fair share, to be sure, but Bernie Sanders and his campaign officials and surrogates made the case first. They fucked that chicken all the way to the DNC convention and continued talking about it through the next year even after the election was over.

I don't know how the court will rule in this case, but it seems significant that Trump's lawyers are out there arguing that conspiring with WikiLeaks isn't a crime. It's likely that they'll say the same thing when special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation is complete.

  • Draxiar

    “Furthermore, the Trump lawyers argued, the First Amendment protects the campaign’s “right to disclose information—even stolen information—so long as (1) the speaker did not participate in the theft and (2) the information deals with matters of public concern.”

    Gotcha. So if the DNC obtained by way of a third party all of trumps tax documents and posted them on a site called “Likiweaks” everyone proffering this horseshit argument would be okay? It’s free speech after all according to their logic.

    • Christopher Foxx

      It’s free speech after all according to their logic.

      No, you misunderstand their “logic”. It consists solely of “Anything we do is OK. Anything they do, even if it’s what we do, is wrong.”

      So in their “logic” releases of DNC emails is an exercise of the First Amendment. While releases of RNC emails would not be protected by the First Amendment, it would be treason.

  • Aynwrong

    “And they revealed the closeness of the party’s ties to the media.”

    If campaign emails of the RNC were ever hacked (they were) and released (they weren’t because Russia is on the GOP’s side) I’m certain it would show a billion dollar circle jerk going on between the RNC, Fox News, the Heritage Foundation, the NRA and freaken Koch Bros.

  • muselet

    Even for Donald Trump’s lawyers, this marks a new low.


  • Badgerite

    Dear Lord. Hacked DNC emails are hardly the Pentagon Papers. Not even close. Risotto recipes. Hilary Clinton’s speeches to Goldman Sachs conferences. The fact that some people in the DNC had a personal preference for Clinton as the nominee. Nope. Definitely not the Pentagon Papers. Know what else? Roger Stone ain’t the New York Times.
    In fact, he ain’t in the media at all. He is actually a political operative who probably played a substantial role in communications with Russian intelligence. What’s more, there was no doubt that the information was stolen and disseminated by Russian intelligence. (See email to Don Jr. that mentions that very point. That the information was gotten via the Russian government which should have necessitated a call to the FBI on their part. Unless, of course, they were part of a conspiracy to defraud the American people.) And trump publicly called on Russia to hack Hilary Clinton’s emails. There is no Free Speech license to violate other laws and involve yourself in a conspiracy with a foreign government to win an election.

  • Georgie

    Nothing is a crime to the trumps if it’s done in their favor.

  • katanahamon

    Meanwhile, the “First Lady” has become a complete charicature…laugh, or possibly cry..maybe both..

    • mnpollio

      She always was a complete caricature. While so many were trying to convince themselves that she was some poor damsel (or possible closet ally) being held hostage by the Orange Anus and his minions, I contrarily held to the point that she was either in on Trump’s agenda full throttle or a useful idiot deployed to distract. At the time Vampira agreed to marry Satan’s Ass, she knew full well what kind of people he and his family were. The fact that she went through with it thinking she could suck it up, tolerate him briefly, drop a child and then run for the door with a cash bonus (and a non-disclosure agreement), does not make her a victim – it makes her complicit. And the tone-deaf way she keeps harping on her laughable “Be Best” anti-bullying nonsense, while remaining mum about the kind of Pandora’s Box of abuse that her evil husband has opened and then propagated at every opportunity says everything you need to know about her. In fact, caricature may be a compliment in this case.

      • Nefercat

        I never liked Melania and she has parroted trump’s crap repeatedly for years. She is no innocent flower and has no accomplishments to speak of, unlike Michelle Obama or many other first ladies.

        She has a stupid plagiarized “campaign” with its stupid illiterate and ungrammatical name (you can be better, but best is a unique condition and in English one would say be the best), and also the alleged anti-cyber bullying campaign. As far as I can tell, these campaigns consist of occasionally shopping for a new and stylish outfit, and then arranging a photo op with children. Or perhaps a tweet. Other first ladies used their platform to assemble a staff and put in serious and sustained efforts in whatever their signature cause was. Not Melania.

        New York’s moneyed elites support large philanthropic efforts which again take a lot of work and effort. I have never heard that trump’s trollop used her position as an unemployed wealthy man’s wife to do anything of any use to anyone. She can go to hell right along with him.

    • Badgerite

      “Be Best.”

    • Christopher Foxx

      I want to talk about my trip, not what I wear. That’s very important, what I do, what we’re doing with US aid, what I do with my initiatives, and I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear,” she harrumphed.

      If she wants people to focus on what she does, then she should spend more time (any time) actually doing something, like actually working on US aid instead of her wardrobe. Nobody looks that much like a fashion plate without it being carefully planned.

      It’s all just more of the hypocrisy that’s the core of any Republican’s character. I truly believe they simply just don’t see that their words and actions are opposites. That they truly believe if they say something (“I’m hear to help people.” “I have the least corrupt administration ever.”) that that alone makes it true, regardless of what is actually happening.