Judge rejects Trump lawsuit against Clinton over 2016 Russia claims
The judge slams Trump's lawsuit by stating that most of his claims are not only unsupported by any legal authority but are also plainly foreclosed by binding precedent.
A US judge has rejected former US president Donald Trump’s lawsuit against his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, saying the former Republican President’s allegations that Democrats tried to rig that election by linking his campaign to Russia was an attempt to “flaunt” political grievances that did not belong in court.
Rejecting Trump’s lawsuit on Thursday, Judge Donald Middlebrooks of the US district court for the southern district of Florida said the lawsuit was not seeking “redress for any legal harm” and that the court was “not the appropriate forum” for the former President’s complaints.
“He is seeking to flaunt a two-hundred-page political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him,” Middlebrooks said in his ruling.
Trump in March had sued Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, and several other Democrats alleging “racketeering", a “conspiracy to commit injurious falsehood,” and other claims in a 108-page lawsuit that echoed the long list of grievances he repeatedly aired during his four years in the White House after beating Clinton.
He had sought compensatory and punitive damages, saying he had incurred more than $24m in “defense costs, legal fees, and related expenses."
In his ruling, Middlebrooks said Trump had waited too long to file his complaint by exceeding the legal statute of limitations for his claims and that he failed to make his case that he was harmed by any falsehoods, noting that many of the statements made by the defendants were “plainly protected by the First Amendment” of the US constitution governing free speech.
Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, said Trump will "immediately move to appeal this decision."
"We vehemently disagree with the opinion issued by the Court today," Habba told CNN in a statement. "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."
In April, lawyers for Clinton asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit and argued that it had "no merit." Clinton's team had argued that she should not be a defendant in the federal court in South Florida because too many years have passed to allow for a lawsuit centered on events from 2016.
Other defendants included Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, who led one of the US House of Representatives two impeachments against Trump, and Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who wrote a dossier circulated to the FBI and media outlets before the 2016 election.
US intelligence officials and others in the US government have accused Russia of meddling in that election. Moscow has repeatedly denied that it interfered in the campaign.
On January 1, Clinton expressed her concern over former Trump's intention to run for the 2024 election. A second term would make his tumultuous first four years in the White House seem like child’s play, she warned.
"If I were a betting person, I'd say Trump is going to run again," Clinton told MSNBC Thursday. "If he's not held accountable and he gets to do it again, I think that could be the end of our democracy."
According to her former campaign manager, Hillary Clinton personally signed off on a plan in 2016 to quietly sell to the media the now-debunked claim that computer systems at Donald Trump's firm had a hidden communications link with a Russian bank.
Robby Mook, a witness in the trial of a former Clinton campaign lawyer accused of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said on Friday that he and others at the campaign "weren't totally confident" in the server data's validity, but they released it to reporters nevertheless a few months before the election.
Mook recalled that "all I remember is that she agreed with it," adding that "she thought she made the right decision."
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