Federal judge levied nearly $1 million in sanctions on the former president on Thursday Donald Trump and his attorney for filing a after a “frivolous” lawsuit was dismissed against Hillary Clinton and many others who claimed they tried to rig the 2016 presidential election in her favor by smearing Trump.
“We are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, that was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and that was filed in bad faith for an improper purpose,” wrote Judge John Middlebrooks in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District. Florida in its order sanctioning Trump.
In his order, the judge noted that “Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigator who has repeatedly used the courts to exact revenge on political opponents.”
“He is a mastermind behind a strategic abuse of the judicial process and cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of counsel,” Middlebrooks wrote.
“He was well aware of the impact of his actions … I find that, as such, sanctions should be imposed on Mr. Trump and his senior adviser, Ms. [Alina] Habba.”
According to the order, Republican Trump and Habba are jointly and severally liable for the total amount of penalties the judge imposed: $937,989.39.
“The amount of fees awarded in this case, while reasonable, is substantial,” Middlebrooks noted.
He called the legal actions filed in the Habba case “abusive litigation tactics” and said the original lawsuit and the later, 186-page amended complaint “were designed to advance a political narrative, not to address the legal harm caused to any defendant.”
“The amended complaint is a jumble of unrelated, often inconsequential events, followed by an improbable conclusion,” Middlebrooks wrote.
“This is a deliberate attempt to harass; to tell a story regardless of the facts.”
Habba did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the order.
Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, filed the lawsuit in March against Clinton, who was the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.
The other 30 defendants included the Democratic National Committee, former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, law firm Perkins Coie, research firm Fusion GPS, former FBI officials James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, as well as Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent who wrote the notorious “Trump-Russia” opposition research report before the election.
The suit, which sought $70 million in damages, accused the defendants of conspiring to “weave a false narrative” during the 2016 election that Trump and his campaign were colluding with Russia in an effort to win the race.
The lawsuit alleged that Clinton and the other defendants falsified evidence, lied to law enforcement and engaged in other fraud that made “Watergate pale in comparison.”
Middlebrooks previously dismissed the lawsuit against Clinton and all other defendants “with prejudice,” preventing Trump from refiling the complaint.
MIddlebrooks’ order is the latest in a string of embarrassing legal setbacks for Trump that have included criminal conviction last month in New York state court against his Manhattan-based real estate company, The Trump Organization, for a years-long tax avoidance scheme.
Trump and his company are also facing a major civil lawsuit by the New York Attorney General for an alleged scheme to misstate real estate valuations for financial gain, and Trump is also being sued by author E. Jean Carroll, who accuses him of rape. her in the mid-1990s in New York.
A state grand jury in Georgia recently finished gathering evidence and hearings in an ongoing criminal investigation into whether Trump illegally tried to overturn the results of the state’s 2020 election, which he lost.
And federal prosecutors are investigating Trump over his bid to overturn President Joe Biden’s national election loss and his taking of government documents to his Florida residence when he left office.