Federal judge sanctions Trump, attorneys over $900,000 for 'a continuing pattern of misuse of the courts'
(The Hill) — A federal judge in Florida on Thursday sanctioned former President Donald Trump and his legal team more than $900,000 for what he characterized as a “continuing pattern” of misusing the court to pursue political interests in response to a “frivolous” case against former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“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. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim,” U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks, an appointee of former President Clinton, wrote in the order. The case at hand had previously been dismissed.
“A continuing pattern of misuse of the courts by Mr. Trump and his lawyers undermines the rule of law, portrays judges as partisans, and diverts resources from those who have suffered actual legal harm,” the judge continued in the searing order.
Middlebrooks found Trump and his lawyers, including lead attorney Alina Habba, jointly liable and slapped down the nearly million-dollar sanction in his second such move against Habba Madaio & Associates.
Trump claimed in the dismissed case against Hillary Clinton and others that they tried to undermine the 2016 presidential election, in which Trump and Clinton went against each other as the Republican and Democratic nominees, respectively.
The latest blistering, 46-page order found that Trump and his attorneys brought the case in bad faith as part of what Middlebrooks called a broader “plan, or at least a playbook” by Trump and his attorneys to misuse the courts for political ends. The judge laid out “telltale signs” of this conduct, including “provocative and boastful rhetoric,” “a political narrative carried over from rallies,” disregard for legal principles, attacks on the news media and “when a ruling is adverse, accusations of bias on the part of judges.”
“Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries. He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process,” the order reads.