A federal judge in Florida on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit by former President Donald Trump against his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, which alleged that she had tried to “rig” the 2016 election.
Trump had sued to recover $24 million in damages, alleging Clinton and others had “orchestrated a malicious conspiracy” to disseminate false information about him, in order to “destroy his life, his political career and rig the 2016 Election” in Clinton’s favor. Judge Donald Middlebrooks of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida tossed out the civil suit in an order on Sept. 8.
Trump’s claims for relief, across 14 counts, were centered on torts of injurious falsehoods and malicious prosecution. He also sued the defendants for alleged violations of criminal statutes – including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), commonly used to prosecute organized crime and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Several of Trump’s claims focused on the Clinton campaign’s retaining of research firm Fusion GPS, which had hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to investigate damaging information about Trump for release during the campaign. Steele’s findings were compiled in a document known as the ‘Steele Dossier,’ which detailed lurid claims about Trump, including sexual activity, and was widely debunked by media analysts.
Judge Middlebrooks, an appointee of President Bill Clinton criticized the lawsuit as “a two-hundred-page political manifesto of grievances” and dismissed the suit with prejudice.
Middlebrooks further wrote that Trump’s complaints were “not warranted under existing law,” had “glaring problems,” and “clearly contravened” Supreme Court precedents. He further lambasted the “audacity of the plaintiff’s legal theories.” Rounding out his critique, Middlebrooks surmised: “What the Amended Complaint lacks in substance and legal support it seeks to substitute with length, hyperbole, and the settling of scores and grievances.”
The many defendants in the case that Trump had sued included Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and several senior figures on her 2016 campaign now serving in top roles in the Biden administration. These included Biden’s senior advisor John Podesta, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who served as DNC Chairwoman and resigned after WikiLeaks showed she favored Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primaries.
“We vehemently disagree with the opinion issued by the Court today,” Trump’s attorney Alina Habba said in a statement shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Not only is it rife with erroneous applications of the law, it disregards the numerous independent governmental investigations which substantiate our claim that the defendants conspired to falsely implicate our client and undermine the 2016 Presidential election. We will immediately move to appeal this decision.”
Also sued were former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former employees Peter Szrok and Lisa Page – all of whom were fired by Trump or during his administration for actions related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation of his campaign. He also sued former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whom Trump had himself appointed, for appointing Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
These defendants were later removed from the case since, under the Westfall Act, federal employees have “absolute immunity” from tort claims arising from their official duties.
Summarizing the defendants’ position, he wrote “As they view it, [w]hatever the utilities of [the Amended Complaint] as a fundraising tool, a press release, or a list of political grievances, it has no merit as a lawsuit.” I agree.”
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