OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has suffered another defeat in court over an unsuccessful lawsuit he filed against his former Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
On Thursday, a federal judge imposed nearly $1 million in fines and sanctions against the former president and his attorney after they filed a “frivolous” lawsuit that was dismissed earlier against Clinton and several others claiming they attempted to rig the 2016 election in her favor using fabricated smears against Trump.
“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,” noted U.S. District Judge John Middlebrooks for the Southern District of Florida in his order fining Trump and his attorney, Alina Habba.
The lawsuit sought $70 million in damages and accused Clinton and 30 other people of conspiring to “weave a false narrative” during the 2016 election cycle by claiming Trump and his campaign were colluding with Russia to steal the election.
Middlebrooks, who was appointed by Hillary Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, in 1997, wrote in his order that “Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries.”
He added: “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.”
CNBC noted further:
Under the order, the Republican Trump and Habba, are jointly and severally liable for the total amount of sanctions the judge imposed to cover the defendants’ legal fees and costs : $937,989.39. That amount is about $120,000 less than what the defendants jointly requested for sanctions.
Clinton was awarded $171,631 in sanctions to be paid by Trump and Habba, with most of that money earmarked for Clinton’s attorneys’ fee.
That was the second largest amount awarded in Middlebrooks’ order, which gave the Democratic National Committee, its former chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, and a related corporation $179,685.
“The amount of fees awarded in this case, while reasonable, is substantial,” Middlebrooks noted.
In November, he also sanctioned Habba and other attorneys for Trump $50,000 in support of another defendant named in the suit, Charles Dolan. He went on to describe Habba’s pleadings as “abusive litigation tactics” and claimed that the original suit, and a later 186-page amended complaint, “were drafted to advance political narrative; not to address legal harm caused by any Defendant.”
“The Amended Complaint is a hodgepodge of disconnected, often immaterial events, followed by an implausible conclusion,” Middlebrooks wrote. “This is a deliberate attempt to harass; to tell a story without regard to facts.”
CNBC added: “The other defendants included the DNC, Wasserman Schultz, Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, the law firm Perkins Coie, the research firm Fusion GPS, the former FBI officials James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page, as well as Christopher Steele, the ex-British intelligence agent who authored the notorious ‘Trump-Russia dossier’ opposition research report before the election.”
The suit accused Clinton and the other defendants of falsifying evidence and deceiving federal law enforcement officials, among other allegations, much of which has been proven to be true through various federal and congressional investigations in the years since. However, Middlebrooks did not find any of the tactics actionable under the law.
In mid-November, Trump officially declared his candidacy for the 2024 GOP nomination, but he faces several more legal challenges in the meantime:
— Last month, a New York State court convicted his Manhattan-based real estate company, The Trump Organization, of a tax avoidance scheme that spanned years.
— Trump and his company still face a civil lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James for allegedly scheming to devalue real estate assets for financial gain.
— The former president faces a lawsuit from writer E. Jean Carroll, who accuses him of rape in the mid-1990s in New York.
— A grand jury in Georgia recently finished gathering evidence and hearing testimony regarding an ongoing criminal investigation into whether Trump illegally tried to overturn the results of the state’s 2020 election outcome in favor of Joe Biden.
— Federal prosecutors are also investigating Trump over his alleged attempts to reverse his election loss to Biden and taking classified documents with him to Mar-a-Lago upon leaving office.