Judge John Middlbrooks in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida imposed nearly $1 million in sanctions on former Republican President Donald Trump and his legal team for filing a "frivolous" lawsuit alleging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others "rigged" the 2016 election.
Trump initially sought $70 million in damages from Clinton and 30 defendants for conspiring to “weave a false narrative” during the 2016 election that Trump and his campaign were colluding with Russian operatives to win the presidential race.
In his order, Middlebrooks said Trump is "a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries," adding he is a "mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process, and... cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer."
Middlebrooks ultimately chose to hold Trump and his attorney Alina Habba jointly and severally liable for $937,989.39 to cover the defendants’ legal fees and costs. Clinton was awarded $171,631 in sanctions to be paid by Trump and Habba though much of that money will go to cover her own lawyer's legal fees.
In his order, the judge also gave the Democratic National Committee (DNC), its former chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a related corporation $179,685.
This is the second time Middlebrooks has imposed sanctions against Trump and Habba since November, when he held them responsible for $50,000 in favor of Charles Dolan, another defendant in the lawsuit. At the time, the judge said Trump's claims “were drafted to advance political narrative; not to address legal harm caused by any Defendant.”
The news of Trump's latest legal setback exposed him to considerable mockery online.
Trump's lawsuit claimed Clinton and other defendants falsified evidence to the point where “even the events of Watergate pale in comparison" in the continuation of a long-held vendetta marked by his calls to "lock her up" in 2016.
Trump notoriously invited Russia to hack Clinton's emails, asking the Kremlin to find "the 30,000 emails that are missing" from the personal server she used during her tenure as Secretary of State.
Her use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State was the subject of intense scrutiny. The emails were retrieved—not deleted as Republican rhetoric continues to claim.
No charges were filed against Clinton as it was deemed a procedural issue and not criminal.
Multiple members of the Trump administration were cited for using private servers, unsecured electronic devices and public apps for official White House communication.