A United States District Judge has dismissed former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, the DNC, former FBI officials, and others regarding their actions during the 2016 presidential campaign and the ensuing Russia probe. The suit was filed by President Trump in March of 2022, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
US District Judge Donald Middlebrooks dismissed the lawsuit Thursday, saying “most of Plaintiff’s claims are not only unsupported by any legal authority but plainly foreclosed by binding precedent.”
“What (Trump’s lawsuit) lacks in substance and legal support it seeks to substitute with length, hyperbole, and the settling of scores and grievances,” Middlebrooks, a Bill Clinton appointee, wrote.
Middlebrooks, of the Southern District of Florida, said there were “glaring problems” with Trump’s “audacious” interpretations of the law, and that many of Trump’s specific factual assertions were “implausible” or unsupported.
Trump “is not attempting to seek redress for any legal harm,” Middlebrooks said. “(I)nstead, he is seeking to flaunt a two-hundred-page political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him, and this Court is not the appropriate forum.”
The lawsuit accused a large group of former US government officials and Democratic operatives of orchestrating a “deep state” conspiracy against him and of perpetuating a massive hoax in the form of the Russia investigation. Trump, who has pushed these baseless claims for years and included them in the lawsuit, had asked for $24 million in damages.
The full 65-page Order can be found here, but to distill it somewhat:
Judge Middlebrooks begins his discussion by noting that the (Amended) Complaint isn’t exactly concise. From the ruling:
Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint is 193 pages in length, with 819 numbered paragraphs. It contains 14 counts, names 31 defendants, 10 “John Does” described as fictitious and unknown persons, and 10 “ABC Corporations” identified as fictitious and unknown entities. Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint is neither short nor plain, and it certainly does not establish that Plaintiff is entitled to any relief.
The Judge then analyzes and rules on the following points:
- The fictitious individual and corporate defendants are not described with sufficient particularity and thus are dismissed without prejudice.
- The Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims against the United States as Plaintiff has not exhausted his remedies under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Thus, the claims against the United States are dismissed without prejudice.
- The Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendants Charles Halliday Dolan Jr., Rodney Joffe, and Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd., under the Florida long-arm statute, thus the claims against them are dismissed with prejudice.
- Plaintiff’s RICO and RICO Conspiracy claims are barred by the statute of limitations (four years from when the injury was or should have been discovered). The Judge notes that President Trump’s own tweets demonstrate his awareness of the purported claims by October 2017 at the latest, thus beyond the four-year window and no tolling exceptions apply.
- The RICO and RICO conspiracy claims also fail on the merits. The three predicate acts on which the claims are based — obstruction of justice, theft of trade secrets, and wire fraud — are not sufficiently pled or supported. Further, Plaintiff lacks RICO standing.
- The claims for injurious falsehood and conspiracy to commit injurious falsehood also are barred by the applicable statutes of limitations, with the exception of statements made by Hillary Clinton and Adam Schiff. The Court concludes, however, that the Clinton and Schiff statements do not satisfy the required elements of an injurious falsehood claim
- The claims for malicious prosecution and conspiracy to commit malicious prosecution (against Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, FBI lawyers Kevin Clinesmith and Lisa Page, DOJ official Bruce Ohr and his wife, Nellie Ohr, and FBI agent Peter Strzok) fail primarily because Plaintiff was never prosecuted. Those counts are dismissed with prejudice.
- The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act claim also is beyond the statute of limitations and, per the Court, fails to state a substantive claim for relief.
- The Theft of Trade Secrets claim is likewise time-barred, as is the claim under the Stored Communications Act.
- Further, the Court that any further attempts to amend the Complaint would be futile, so dismisses the merits claims with prejudice.
In sum, the Amended Complaint was dismissed with prejudice (i.e., a final disposition) as to the non-federal defendants, and without prejudice as to the United States.
Whether Trump will appeal the ruling remains to be seen.
UPDATE: President Trump’s attorneys have indicated they do plan to appeal the ruling:
Trump’s legal team “will immediately move to appeal this decision,” his attorney Alina Habba said in a statement Friday morning. Middlebrooks’ order was “rife with erroneous applications of the law” and it ignored “numerous governmental investigations which substantiate” Trump’s conspiracy claims, Habba’s statement added.