Judge dismisses Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton over 2016 election

A federal judge in Florida has dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying there was no basis for the former president to claim Clinton and her allies harmed him with an orchestrated plan. to spread false information that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential race.

Trump “is trying to show off a 200-page political manifesto setting out his grievances against those who have opposed him, and this Court is not the right forum,” Florida Southern District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks wrote in a statement. damning 65-page ruling released Friday. The judge also wrote about “the brutality of Plaintiff’s legal theories and the way in which they clearly conflict with binding case law.”

Middlebrooks noted “glaring structural flaws in the plaintiff’s argument” and said that “such pleadings are a waste of judicial resources and an unacceptable form of bringing a claim for damages.”

Trump’s lawsuit, filed in March, targeted Clinton and a clique of Democratic allies, including Christopher Steele, a former British spy hired by an opposition investigative agency working for the Clinton campaign and who is now infamous dossier alleging Trump-Russia ties. Trump’s lawsuit alleged that he incurred more than $24 million in costs to defend himself against the charges and sought damages equal to three times that amount.

More than two dozen entities and individuals, including the Democratic National Committee, were named in the lawsuit, which came more than five years after Trump defeated Clinton to claim the presidency.

The lawsuit also alleged that the defendants falsified evidence, defrauded law enforcement and misused their access to highly sensitive data sources.

“What the amended complaint lacks in substance and legal support it seeks to replace with length, exaggeration and settlement of bills and grievances,” Middlebrooks wrote.

The ruling was a victory for Clinton, who in April asked the judge to dismiss the case, saying, “Whatever the utility of Plaintiff’s complaint as a fundraising tool, a press release, or a list of political grievances, it has no merit as a lawsuit, and must be dismissed with prejudice.”

By doing just that, Middlebrooks criticized the quality of the legal work of Trump’s lawyers.

“Many of the descriptions of events in the amended complaint are implausible because they do not contain specific allegations that could provide factual support for the conclusions reached,” Middlebrooks wrote.

The judge cited the lawsuit’s allegation as an example that former FBI Director James B. Comey, senior agency officials and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein “overzealously attacked” Trump and his campaign by appointing special counsel. to investigate the role. Russia played in the 2016 election.

Trump’s lawyers also presented citations to support their argument that simply weren’t true, the judge wrote. The lawsuit alleges that Clinton and top campaign officials conceived and executed the plot against Trump and hid their involvement “behind a third-party wall,” and it cites a specific page of a report from the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s office. .

“I went to page 96 of the Inspector General’s report looking for support for Plaintiff’s conclusion and argumentative statement but found none,” the judge wrote. Trump’s lawyers may disagree with the report, Middlebrooks wrote, “but they cannot misrepresent it in a plea.”

Alina Habiba, a Trump attorney, said in a statement that his lawyers “completely disagree” with the ruling and that it was “full of misapplication of the law.” They will appeal the decision.

Despite Trump’s repeated claims that he was acquitted by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III after a two-year investigation, Mueller said in 2019 only that his team had not made a decision on “conspiracy” and that it had not found sufficient evidence. to file a complaint. any member of Trump’s campaign with criminal conspiracy.

Several Trump associates pleaded guilty to charges related to the 2016 campaign and Russia, including federal conspiracy or lying to the FBI.

And in a 2020 Senate Intelligence Committee report, Trump’s 2016 campaign was portrayed as counter-espionage risks due to his significant contacts with Russia and apparent determination to hide the full extent of his behavior.

Trump’s lawsuit also focuses on the work of Michael Sussmann, who worked on behalf of the Clinton campaign and who tried to get the FBI to investigate possible computer connections between a Trump Organization server and a Russian financial institution known as Alfa Bank. .

But the lawsuit failed to note that Sussmann had been acquitted of wrongdoing in a separate case, Middlebrooks wrote. In filing their lawsuit, Middlebrooks said, Trump’s attorneys “certified in court” that their arguments were, to the best of their knowledge, legally correct and not frivolous. “I have serious doubts whether that standard is met here,” the judge wrote.

As for Steele, Middlebrooks wrote that despite the numerous references to him in Trump’s lawsuit, “none specifically attributes a false statement about plaintiff to him.”

Later, the judge took a stab at what he said was the lawsuit’s sweeping attempt to criminalize criticism of Trump, writing, “Neither be politically against plaintiff, hate plaintiff, nor engage in political speech about plaintiff who portrays him in a negative light is illegal. ”

Middlebrooks also emphasized the difference between conflicting with Trump and harming him: “Opposition to Plaintiff’s presidential campaign does not amount to a realized monetary loss. Statements to law enforcement or comments in a political campaign are not intended to induce others not to associate with the plaintiff or his company, or to cause direct or immediate financial loss.”

“In addition,” he later added, “many of the statements Plaintiff characterizes as harmful falsehoods qualify as speech clearly protected by the First Amendment.”

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