Free Speech For People v. Government of Russia and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.

On December 16, 2016 Campaign for Accountability and Free Speech For People called on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to immediately investigate whether the Russian government, which paid hackers to aid Donald Trump’s campaign, illegally influenced the presidential election. The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) prohibits foreign nationals from spending money to influence American elections. We have since filed two amended complaints to account for new information, on May 4, 2017 and on June 2, 2017.

Key facts

Caption Free Speech For People v. Government of Russia and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
Court Federal Election Commission
Docket No. 7207
Status Awaiting decision from the FEC
Plaintiffs Free Speech For People and the Campaign for Accountability
Defendant Government of Russia and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.

Background

Our complaint states: “According to the United States government, the Russian government deliberately attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election in order to assist the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. [The Federal Election Campaign Act] prohibits foreign nationals from spending money to influence federal elections.”

The complaint continues: “Furthermore, according to published reports, there is sufficient basis for the FEC to initiate an investigation as to whether this activity by the Russian government met the legal definition of having ‘coordinated’ with the Trump campaign, whether at the request of the candidate or his committee, or through shared former employees, contractors, or business associates.”

The complaint identifies numerous reports that computer hackers paid by the Russian government engaged in cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee to gain access to DNC emails, including those of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and then released those email messages to help Trump win the election. The complaint further identifies reports that a Russian propaganda effort helped spread a flood of “fake news” designed to support the Trump candidacy. And the complaint cites indications of potential coordination with the Trump campaign, including Trump’s statement on June 27, 2016, publicly calling upon the Russian government to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Read more about it in our blog post here.
Read the press release here.

Major case developments

In the news

  • Washington PostDid Facebook ads traced to a Russian company violate U.S. election law? (Sept. 7, 2017)
  • American ProspectThe simple case against Trump (June 8, 2017)
  • PoliticoFEC member urges escalated Trump-Russia inquiry (May 23, 2017)
  • NewsweekDid the Trump campaign collude with Russia? Follow the money (May 6, 2017)
  • US News & World Report, There’s no such thing as “collusion” (Jan. 11, 2018)

Research

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