Former FBI officials including Comey, McCabe dropped from Trump civil lawsuit
A federal judge has dismissed five former FBI officials from a lawsuit that former President Trump brought against them and others, alleging that they conspired to harm his 2016 presidential run with accusations that he colluded with Russia.
U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks ruled that the United States could be substituted in the lawsuit for former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyers Lisa Page and Kevin Clinesmith.
The Justice Department (DOJ) successfully argued that any action these former officials took related to Trump’s claims were in fulfillment of their official duties. The ruling states that the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988 protects federal employees from civil claims that come from actions they took in their official capacity.
Trump filed the lawsuit in March against his 2016 Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and more than a dozen other officials. He alleged that they “maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative” that Trump colluded with a “hostile foreign sovereignty.”
The complaint originally named a total of 28 individuals and organizations.
The ruling states that Trump can argue that the five officials were acting outside the scope of their employment, but he has the burden of proving it. James Touhey Jr., a top DOJ official for the civil division and delegate of the attorney general, certified that the five were acting in their official capacity, according to the ruling.
Middlebrooks did not rule on the DOJ’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the government, deferring a decision to a later time.
Trump did not immediately return a request from The Hill for comment.
Former Attorney General William Barr appointed a special counsel, John Durham, to investigate the origins of the FBI’s probe into Trump’s campaign. Durham has attained a few indictments since 2019 but has demonstrated little evidence of a wide-ranging conspiracy to hurt Trump’s campaign.