West News Wire: Former President Donald Trump and his lawyer Alina Habba have been fined nearly $1 million by a federal judge in Florida for filing what the judge deemed to be a frivolous lawsuit alleging that Hillary Clinton and others connected to the Russia investigation unlawfully conspired to harm Trump’s reputation.
Trump is described as “a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is frequently using the courts to seek retribution on political rivals” in Judge David Middlebrooks’ ruling.
He cannot be viewed as a litigant who is obediently following the counsel of a lawyer because he is the mastermind of deliberate exploitation of the legal system. He was fully aware of the consequences of his actions, according to Middlebrooks’ writing.
“As such, I find that sanctions should be imposed upon Mr. Trump and his lead counsel, Ms. Habba,” wrote the judge.
Habba did not immediately return a request for comment from news reporters.
Trump sued Clinton, his 2016 presidential challenger, for allegedly “acting in concert” with top FBI leadership to invent what became known as the Russia investigation into interference in the 2016 election. Trump had argued that the Russia probe was “prolonged and exacerbated by the presence of a small faction of Clinton loyalists who were well-positioned within the Department of Justice.”
Judge Middlebrooks dismissed the lawsuit this past September.
Middlebrooks’ sanctions, issued late Thursday, direct Habba and Trump to pay $938,000 to 18 defendants in the case.
“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,” Middlebrooks wrote in his opinion.
The judge also cautioned Trump’s attorneys that they could face sanctions over their separate lawsuit targeting New York Attorney General Letitia James, who in September filed a $250 million suit against Trump and his family members for allegedly defrauding lenders and others with false and misleading financial statements.