A federal judge in Florida on Thursday ordered former President Donald Trump and his attorneys to pay nearly $1 million in sanctions for a lawsuit Trump filed against Hillary Clinton and many others over claims the 2016 presidential election was rigged.
Under the 46-page order, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks said Trump and his lead attorney in the case, Alina Habba, are individually and jointly liable for $937,989.39 in legal sanctions, covering the defendants’ attorneys’ fees and costs.
“This case should never have been brought. Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it,” Middlebrooks wrote in his order Thursday. “Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim.”
The lawsuit had named as defendants Clinton and some of her top advisers, as well as former FBI Director James Comey and other FBI officials involved in the investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had coordinated with Russia to sway the outcome of the election.
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The lawsuit was previously tossed out by Middlebrooks in September, who called the suit a “political manifesto.” On Thursday, Middlebrooks called Trump’s lawsuit “completely frivolous.”
“Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries,” 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.”
Middlebrooks wrote that claims by Trump and Habba were implausible, specifically noting that Trump’s claim that Comey and Clinton conspired together to seek his prosecution “not only lacks substance but is categorically absurd.”
He said then the suit contained “glaring structural deficiencies” and that many of the “characterizations of events are implausible.”
Contributing: Ella Lee, USA TODAY; The Associated Press