Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesTom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, listens during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, Jan. 31, 2018.
The Democratic National Committee filed a sweeping lawsuit in federal court Friday alleging collusion between Russians and Trump campaign operatives in the 2016 election and naming the Russian government, the Trump campaign, Trump family members, WikiLeaks and others.
The suit claims a wide-ranging “Russia-Trump conspiracy” and is based on the same anti-racketeering statutes that have been used against underworld criminals.
Stephanopoulos asked Perez if he is concerned that the suit might interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to Trump associates.
The Democratic chairman responded, “No. I worked at the Justice Department for over a dozen years under Republican and Democratic administrations.”
The criminal justice system, which Mueller is working within, operates separately from the civil justice side that handles lawsuits such as that filed by the DNC, Perez said.
Perez added that when he was helping to investigate police misconduct claims in the Justice Department, civil suits on the same case would “invariably” be filed. “We were always able to work out protocols so that we wouldn’t interfere, the civil suit wouldn’t interfere with the criminal probe.”
The DNC’s lawsuit seeks “justice and to expose the truth in the civil justice system because … we have not imposed sufficient costs on Russia for what they tried to do to the election,” Perez said. “We know why. This government didn’t impose sufficient costs because they were conspiring with the government of Russia.”
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The Trump campaign in a statement Friday called the lawsuit “frivolous” and a “last-ditch effort” to validate the “baseless” claim that Trump conspired with the Kremlin.
“This is a sham lawsuit about a bogus Russian collusion claim filed by a desperate, dysfunctional, and nearly insolvent Democratic Party,” said Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/APPresident Donald Trump listens during a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club, April 18, 2018, in Palm Beach, Fla.
Stephanopoulos on “This Week” asked Perez about criticism from David Axelrod, a fellow Democrat who worked as chief strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. Axelrod tweeted Friday night that the DNC suit was “spectacularly ill-timed” and would support Trump’s portrayal of the federal Russia investigation as “a partisan vendetta.”
Perez responded, “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,” the DNC chief said. “We have a strong case. That’s why we brought it.”