The former president Donald Trump and one of his top attorneys were fined almost $1 million by a federal judge on Thursday for bringing a lengthy lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and other alleged political rivals “that should never have been filed.”
In his 46-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks of Southern Florida stated that the case was dismissed in September and that Trump, lead lawyer Alina Habba, and Habba Madaio & Associates were all equally responsible for $937,989 in damages.
“This case ought never to have been filed. Its shortcomings as a legal claim were immediately apparent. Middlebrooks concluded that no “reasonable lawyer” would have brought it and that the lawsuit was “for a political purpose.”
He continued by explaining why he thought Trump, not only his lawyers, was at fault. “Mr. Trump is a skilled and prolific litigator who frequently turns to the courts to get revenge on political rivals.
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He cannot be viewed as a petitioner deferring to the counsel of a lawyer because he is the mastermind of the deliberate exploitation of the legal system. According to Middlebrooks, he was fully aware of the consequences of his acts. “As a result, Mr. Trump and Ms. Habba should be subject to sanctions.”
NBC News has contacted Habba and a Trump spokesperson for comment. In March, Trump filed a lawsuit alleging that in 2016, Clinton, the Democratic Party’s then-nominee for president, and the DNC, among others, orchestrated a “malicious conspiracy” to look into the connections between his campaign and Russia, “destroying his life,” and rigging the election in Clinton’s favor.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and former FBI Director James Comey were the defendants included in the initial lawsuit. The fines were announced on Thursday on behalf of 18 defendants who claimed that Trump intentionally filed a “factually baseless and legally unjustified litigation” in a joint motion in October.
Middlebrooks said the defendants had asked for around $1 million to pay their legal bills and expenses. In his ruling, Middlebrooks referenced several litigation Trump has filed and alleged that he and his lawyers had a “continuous habit of misusing the courts.”
Defamation lawsuits against the Pulitzer Board and Letitia James, the New York Attorney General who investigated and ultimately sued Trump over claims of bank, tax, and insurance fraud, were two of them that were filed last month.
Such cases, according to Middlebrooks, weakened the rule of law, diverted funding “from individuals who have experienced legal harm,” and portrayed judges as partisans.
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