Judge sanctions Trump lawyers over handling of ‘frivolous’ lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, DNC
A federal judge on Thursday ordered sanctions against former President Trump’s attorneys over their handling of a since-dismissed lawsuit brought on Trump’s behalf against his 2016 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and dozens more defendants.
The sanctioned parties — four attorneys and their two law firms — were ordered to pay a $50,000 court penalty and more than $16,000 in attorney’s fees to one of the named defendants in Trump’s suit.
“[L]egal filings like those at issue here should be sanctioned … both to penalize this conduct and deter similar conduct by these lawyers and others,” Florida-based U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks, an appointee of former President Clinton, wrote in a blistering 19-page order.
Among the 29 defendants Trump sued was Charles Dolan, whom Trump’s lawyers falsely depicted in their suit as a former top Democratic official, a close Clinton ally and a New York resident. The attorneys repeated some of these inaccuracies, despite warnings from Dolan’s lawyers, Middlebrooks said.
According to the judge’s sanctions order, Trump’s suit contained factual assertions that were “either knowingly false or made in reckless disregard for the truth.”
Dolan, a onetime campaign volunteer for Clinton who initiated the sanctions motion against Trump’s attorneys, was awarded $16,274 in legal fees.
The sanctioned attorneys were Alina Habba, Michael Madaio and their law firm Habba Madaio & Associates, as well as Peter Ticktin, Jamie Alan Sasson and The Ticktin Law Group.
“It should be no surprise that we will be appealing this decision,” Habba said in a statement.
In September, Middlebrooks dismissed Trump’s suit accusing dozens of individuals and entities of conspiring to undermine the 2016 presidential election. At the time of the dismissal, the judge referred to Trump’s amended complaint as “a two-hundred-page political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him.”
In his Thursday sanctions order, the judge noted that the former president’s suit “was, in its entirety, frivolous.”