A federal judge in Florida has sanctioned former President Donald Trump and one of his attorneys over a lawsuit deemed frivolous against Hillary Clinton and 30 others.
Trump sued Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, the Democratic National Committee, and dozens of others in March 2022. The former president alleged that the defendants orchestrated a plot to spread malicious and false information about Trump regarding his ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The judge, appointed by former President Bill Clinton, ordered Trump, his attorney Alina Habba, and Habba’s firm, Habba Madaio & Associates, to pay a $937,989.39 fine for a lawsuit that “needlessly harmed” 31 people and entities “in order to dishonestly advance a political narrative.”
“Here, we are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose,” U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks wrote. “Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries. He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process, and he cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer. He knew full well the impact of his actions.”
“As such, I find that sanctions should be imposed upon Mr. Trump and his lead counsel, Ms. Habba,” the judge said.
Trump’s lawsuit accused a slew of Democratic groups, operatives, public officials, and others of “nefariously” abusing federal investigative power, media ethics, and the public’s trust to promote a conspiracy about the Trump campaign’s ties to Moscow. “Indeed, their far-reaching conspiracy was designed to cripple Trump’s bid for presidency by fabricating a scandal that would be used to trigger an unfounded federal investigation and ignite a media frenzy,” Trump’s lawsuit said.
Middlebrooks threw out the case in September, dismissing Trump’s filing as a “political manifesto” disguised as a lawsuit filled with overwrought claims and hyperbole while lacking substance. The judge fined Trump’s legal team $50,000 over the lawsuit in November.
Many of the defendants together filed a joint request for further punishment against Trump, however. Clinton and others targeted in Trump’s suit asked Middlebrooks for additional sanctions against the former president.
Middlebrooks at the time agreed to consider the additional sanctions and warned Trump’s legal team that additional action may be taken against them by “the bar and disciplinary authorities” over the Trump lawsuit.