Friday, January 20, 2023

Judge Orders Trump and Lawyer to Pay Nearly $1 Million for Bogus Suit. (NY Times)

Another bogus TRUMP lawsuit bites the dust.  Wille DJT's chauvinistic supporters finally get the message?  You tell me.  From The New York Times: 

Judge Orders Trump and Lawyer to Pay Nearly $1 Million for Bogus Suit

After the scathing ruling, the former president also dropped a lawsuit against New York’s attorney general that had been pending before the same judge.

Alina Habba, wearing a light-colored pantsuit.
Alina Habba, a lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump, was ordered to pay sanctions in the suit.Credit...Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times

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In a scathing ruling, a federal judge in Florida on Thursday ordered Donald J. Trump and one of his lawyers together to pay nearly a million dollars in sanctions for filing a frivolous lawsuit against nearly three dozen of Mr. Trump’s perceived political enemies, including Hillary Clinton and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey.

The ruling was a significant rebuke of Mr. Trump, who has rarely faced such consequences in his long history of using the courts as a weapon against business rivals and partners, as well as former employees and reporters.

In an indication that the ruling may have had immediate consequences, other Florida-based lawyers for Mr. Trump filed a terse notice on Friday that he was voluntarily dropping a lawsuit he had filed against the attorney general of New York, Letitia James. Mr. Trump had filed the suit against Ms. James over the objections of his own longstanding legal advisers, who had told him it was frivolous.

Thursday’s sanctions ruling in the Clinton conspiracy case — which followed an earlier imposition of sanctions for one defendant in the same case — was the latest setback for Mr. Trump as he faces a broad range of legal problems and criminal investigations. His lawyers are increasingly under scrutiny themselves for their actions in those cases, as well as divided in the advice they are offering him.

“This case should never have been brought,” U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks wrote in a 46-page ruling. “Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim.”

Mr. Trump’s lawsuit against Ms. James — which accused her of trespassing on his right to privacy in Florida, where he lives, and sought to halt her civil case in New York against him and his company — had also been assigned to Judge Middlebrooks.

In his sanctions ruling, Judge Middlebrooks had taken note of the James litigation in a litany of cases he presented as a pattern of Mr. Trump abusing the legal system, stressing that he had already urged Mr. Trump and his lawyers to consider dropping the case because it “has all the telltale signs of being both vexatious and frivolous.”

While Mr. Trump has often blamed his lawyers for his problems, the judge, in his sanctions ruling on Thursday, addressed Mr. Trump’s history of using the courts as a cudgel, going back decades in his business career.

“Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries,” Judge Middlebrooks wrote. “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.” 

Judge Middlebrooks said Mr. Trump’s suit had been “brought in bad faith for an improper purpose” and had “needlessly harmed” the 31 individuals and organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, he had sued “in order to dishonestly advance a political narrative.”

The judge added that Mr. Trump’s use of the courts had helped to undermine the public’s confidence in them.

“A continuing pattern of misuse of the courts by Mr. Trump and his lawyers undermines the rule of law, portrays judges as partisans and diverts resources from those who have suffered actual legal harm,” he wrote.

The judge said Mr. Trump and the lawyer who filed the case for him, Alina Habba, and her firm, Habba Madaio & Associates, were to pay $937,989.39.

Neither a spokesman for Mr. Trump nor Ms. Habba immediately responded to requests for comment.

Ms. Habba was the lead lawyer among a group who filed the suit on Mr. Trump’s behalf in March. She is also representing Mr. Trump in a sweeping fraud case brought by the New York State attorney general and a case filed by E. Jean Carroll, a woman who alleges that Mr. Trump raped her in the 1990s.

Ms. Habba has offered advice in the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents as well, according to people close to Mr. Trump, including arguing he should hire someone to search his properties for any additional documents.

The suit names Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and other people and entities that he claimed conspired to damage him in the 2016 election with what he called false claims about his ties to Russia. Among the defendants were Mr. Comey; the former deputy F.B.I. director Andrew G. McCabe, who opened the counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia; and the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who helped circulate a dossier of lurid claims about Mr. Trump and Russia, many of which were unsubstantiated.

The conspiracy-minded racketeering suit was filed with hyperbole and exaggerations, and made claims easily shown to be false. In the ruling on Thursday, Judge Middlebrooks broke down how the suit’s claims — including that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Comey had conspired to take down Mr. Trump — were “implausible” and “categorically absurd.”

Mr. Trump’s claims were “a hodgepodge of disconnected, often immaterial events, followed by an implausible conclusion,” the judge wrote, adding, “This is a deliberate attempt to harass; to tell a story without regard to facts.”

Judge Middlebrooks, who was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1997, threw out the suit in September, saying that “most of plaintiff’s claims are not only unsupported by any legal authority but plainly foreclosed by binding precedent.” The judge said that what the suit “lacks in substance and legal support, it seeks to substitute with length, hyperbole, and the settling of scores and grievances.”

He said Mr. Trump was trying to brandish a “political manifesto” against political rivals, masquerading as a lawsuit.

In November, Judge Middlebrooks fined Mr. Trump’s lawyers $50,000 and ordered them to pay the legal fees of one of the defendants. But a number of defendants, including Mrs. Clinton, filed jointly seeking additional sanctions, which the judge wrote at the time “may be appropriate.” The actions of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, he warned then, could also merit attention from “the bar and disciplinary authorities.”

The additional fine was sure to add stress to Mr. Trump’s legal team, which has already been displaying tensions. That has been especially true on his handling of classified documents, more than 300 of which made their way from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida club and residence, and remained there long after he left office.

In that case, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have divided into camps, with Boris Epshteyn, who is also an adviser to the former president, among those seen as enabling some of his pugilistic instincts.

Michael S. Schmidt is a Washington correspondent covering national security and federal investigations. He was part of two teams that won Pulitzer Prizes in 2018 — one for reporting on workplace sexual harassment and the other for coverage of President Trump and his campaign’s ties to Russia. @NYTMike

Maggie Haberman is a White House correspondent. She joined The Times in 2015 as a campaign correspondent and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on President Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. @maggieNYT

Charlie Savage is a Washington-based national security and legal policy correspondent. A recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, he previously worked at The Boston Globe and The Miami Herald. His most recent book is “Power Wars: The Relentless Rise of Presidential Authority and Secrecy.” @charlie_savage  Facebook


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Trump was a phoney snake oil salesmen. He said he was going to bring back the American dream better than ever...and then cut his own taxes. People who believe that money trickles down didn't notice that he defaulted on that campaign promise with the Tax Cuts for Billionaires and Low Wage Jobs Act. His presidency was a carnival grift and epic fail. If I could choose only two words to describe the man, those two words would be frivolous and bogus. If I only had to choose one word, it would be BOGUS. His supporters were duped by a flim flam Houdini. Send him your money, and he will win in 2024.