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DNC serves WikiLeaks with lawsuit via Twitter

The Democratic National Committee on Friday officially served its lawsuit to WikiLeaks via Twitter, employing a rare method to serve its suit to the elusive group that has thus far been unresponsive. 

As CBS News first reported last month, the DNC filed a motion with a federal court in Manhattan requesting permission to serve its complaint to WikiLeaks on Twitter, a platform the DNC argued the website uses regularly. The DNC filed a lawsuit in April against the Trump campaign, Russian government and WikiLeaks, alleging a massive conspiracy to tilt the 2016 election in Donald Trump's favor. 

All of the DNC's attempts to serve the lawsuit via email failed, the DNC said in last month's motion to the judge, which was ultimately approved.

The lawsuit was served through a tweet from a Twitter account established Friday by Cohen Milstein, the law firm representing the DNC in the suit, with the intent of serving the lawsuit. 

The DNC argued the unusual method of serving a lawsuit over Twitter was feasible because WikiLeaks, founded by Julian Assange, frequently uses Twitter and had even suggested it had read the DNC's lawsuit. 

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 noted last month that there is some legal precedent for serving the lawsuit on 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, who had an active Twitter account.

"WikiLeaks seems to tweet daily," the DNC said in the motion made to the judge last month. 

In the months before 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.

Mr. Trump and many in his administration have described questions of alleged conspiracy with Russia as an excuse for losing the election. 

"Just won lawsuit filed by the DNC and a bunch of Democrat crazies trying to claim the Trump Campaign (and others), colluded with Russia. They haven't figured out that this was an excuse for them losing the election!" the president tweeted in July, although the lawsuit is ongoing.

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.