Perez Defends DNC Lawsuit Against Trump Campaign: ‘We Can Walk and Chew Gum’

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez defended the DNC's civil lawsuit against the Donald Trump campaign Sunday from criticism that includes Democratic lawmakers and strategists.

The DNC filed the lawsuit Friday in federal court, accusing the Trump campaign of conspiring with Russian agents and WikiLeaks. The New York Times reported the suit came as a surprise to even Democratic Party leaders.

ABC's George Stephanopoulos quoted former Obama chief strategist David Axelrod calling the lawsuit "spectacularly ill-timed," saying it helps President Trump portray the Robert Mueller Russia probe as a partisan vendetta.

Perez defended himself by saying that a civil suit needs to be filed within the statue of limitations and the DNC has a strong case. He also said it is important to "deter misconduct."

"It's hard to win elections when you have interference in elections. And they've done it with impunity. I'm concerned it will happen again. That's why we did it now," Perez said.

Stephanopoulos pushed Perez, asking if this type of lawsuit is a bad idea with the 2018 midterms coming up.

Some Democrats think so, including Intelligence Committee member Rep. Jackie Speier (Calif.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), who faces a tough re-election battle this November.

McCaskill called the lawsuit a distraction, but Perez told Stephanopoulos "we can walk and chew gum."

"We're fighting for good jobs, good teacher pay, good education. Health care for all," Perez said before adding that he's also "fighting to preserve our democracy."

Trump mocked the lawsuit Friday as being filed by "Obstructionist Democrats."

UPDATE: 11:37 A.M.: Perez told "Meet The Press" host Chuck Todd he disagreed with McCaskill and Speier's criticism of the lawsuit, saying "preserving our democracy is priceless."