DNC files motion to serve lawsuit against WikiLeaks via Twitter

DNC chair Tom Perez on new lawsuit

Three months after filing a lawsuit against the Trump campaign, the Russian government and WikiLeaks that alleges a massive conspiracy to tilt the 2016 election in President Trump's favor, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has so far been unsuccessful in its attempts to serve WikiLeaks.

So the DNC is trying a new tactic to serve its complaint to the website that leaked internal DNC emails during the 2016 election — Twitter. The DNC filed a motion Friday in federal court in Manhattan requesting permission to serve the complaint to WikiLeaks on a platform the DNC argues the website uses regularly. 

"Because WikiLeaks has more of a virtual than a physical presence, the court can and should exercise its authority … to authorize service by Twitter," the motion reads. 

The DNC filed the lawsuit in April, alleging violations of federal copyright laws and the Trade Secrets Act. Friday's motion is a new attempt to deliver the lawsuit to WikiLeaks and since WikiLeaks' exact physical presence is unknown, the DNC argues the lawsuit can only be served electronically, not physically. The DNC's motion to serve the lawsuit to WikiLeaks on Twitter outlines the Democrats' repeated attempts to serve the lawsuit via email since April 20, but those emails were all rejected.     

The essence of the lawsuit claims that a combination of Russian hacking and interactions between top Trump campaign officials amounted to conspiracy. 

In the months ahead of the 2016 election, WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 internal DNC emails, many of which were related to Hillary Clinton. WikiLeaks later released thousands of emails belonging to John Podesta, who was Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign chairman. WikiLeaks was founded by Julian Assange.

The DNC's attempt to serve the lawsuit to WikiLeaks on Twitter comes shortly after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russians accused of hacking in the 2016 election.

The DNC argues that WikiLeaks has publicly acknowledged its awareness of the lawsuit on Twitter. In the days immediately after the DNC filed the lawsuit on April 20, WikiLeaks tweeted about the lawsuit at least six times, claiming in one tweet that WikiLeaks had read the complaint.

On April 21, the WikiLeaks Twitter account tweeted, "Democrats have gone all Scientology against @WikiLeaks. We read the DNC lawsuit. Its primary claim against @WikiLeaks is that we published their 'trade secrets.' Scientology infamously tried this trick when we published their secret bibles. Didn't work out well for them.'"

The DNC also notes in their motion that there is some legal precedent for serving the lawsuit via Twitter. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the DNC notes, decided service by Twitter was a reasonable way to alert the defendant had an active Twitter account.

"WikiLeaks seems to tweet daily," the DNC motion notes.