Federal judge dismisses lawsuit filed by Trump against Hillary Clinton over 2016 campaign

Judge Donald Middlebrooks of the Southern District of Florida sided with motions brought forth by Clinton and her co-defendants, dismissing the case.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Thursday, a federal judge in Florida dismissed a lawsuit brought forth by former President Donald Trump against 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, alleging that she and her co-defendants had violated a number of laws during their 2016 presidential campaign.

The lawsuit, filed on March 24, 2022, alleged that Clinton and her co-defendants had violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), "predicated on the theft of trade secrets," had obstructed justice, and committed wire fraud.

Additional claims were made for injurious falsehood, malicious prosecution, violations of the Computer Fraud Abuse Act, theft of trade secrets under the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, and violations of the Stored Communications Act.

Judge Donald Middlebrooks of the Southern District of Florida sided with motions brought forth by Clinton and her co-defendants, dismissing the case, according to court documents.

Summarizing the case brought forth by Trump’s team, which had been nearly 193 pages in length, Middlebrooks said that "Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants '[a]cting in concert ... maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty.'"

"The Defendants effectuated this alleged conspiracy through two core efforts. '[O]n one front, Perkins Coie partner Mark Elias led an effort to produce spurious ‘opposition research’ claiming to reveal illicit ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.'"

"To that end, Defendant Hillary Clinton and her campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and lawyers for the Campaign and the Committee allegedly hired Defendant Fusion GPS to fabricate the Steele Dossier," Middlebrooks wrote.

"[O]n a separate front, Perkins Coie partner Michael Sussman headed a campaign to develop misleading evidence of a bogus 'back channel' connection between e-mail servers at Trump Tower and a Russianowned bank," Middlebrooks wrote, quoting the amended complaint.

"Clinton and her operatives allegedly hired Defendant Rodney Joffe to exploit his access to Domain Name Systems ('DNS') data, via Defendant Neustar, to investigate and ultimately manufacture a suspicious pattern of activity between Trump-related servers and a Russian bank with ties to Vladimir Putin, Alfa Bank.

"As a result of this 'fraudulent evidence,' the Federal Bureau of Investigations ('FBI') commenced 'several large-scale investigations,' which were 'prolonged and exacerbated by the presence of a small faction of Clinton loyalists who were well-positioned within the Department of Justice,'" the court document continued.

"And while this was ongoing, the Defendants allegedly 'seized on the opportunity to publicly malign Donald J. Trump by instigating a full-blown media frenzy.'As a result of this 'multi-pronged attack,'" Middlebrooks concluded. "Plaintiff claims to have amassed $24 million in damages"

Middlebrooks wrote that the defendants said the amended complaint was "a series of disconnected political disputes that Plaintiff has alchemized into a sweeping conspiracy among the many individuals Plaintiff believes to have aggrieved him," and that a motion to dismiss was warranted because Trump’s arguments are now past the statutes of limitations.

In an explanation as to why the case what thrown out, Middlebrooks cited the length of the amended complaint, saying a complaint filed in federal court "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," and that each allegation must be "simple, concise, and direct."

"Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint is neither short nor plain, and it certainly does not establish that Plaintiff is entitled to any relief," Middlebrooks wrote.

Middlebrooks continued on to state that the claims brought forth are "not warranted under existing law," noting that after the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the original complaint, the Trump team had added wire fraud offenses to support what was allegedly a "lack of predicate RICO offenses."

"Not only does Plaintiff lack standing to complain about an alleged scheme to defraud the news media, but his lawyers ignore the Supreme Court’s holdings that the federal wire fraud statute prohibits only deceptive schemes to deprive the victim of money or property," Middlebrooks wrote.

Middlebrooks said that many of the amended complaint’s characterizations of events are "implausible because they lack any specific allegations which might provide factual support for the conclusions reached," citing the example of how FBI officials allegedly "overzealously targeted" Trump "and conspired to harm him through the appointment of special counsel."

"What the Amended Complaint lacks in substance and legal support it seeks to substitute with length, hyperbole, and the settling of scores and grievances," Middlebrooks wrote.

Middlebrooks also noted that the amended complaint cites on a multitude of occasions the indictment of Michael Sussmann, "but nowhere does the Amended Complaint mention Mr. Sussmann’s acquittal."

Middlebrooks called Trump’s complaint a "quintessential shotgun pleading," noting that "Such pleadings waste judicial resources and are an unacceptable form of establishing a claim for relief."

In regards to the term, Middlebrooks wrote that each complaint addressed in the amended complaint document incorporates references of every count and allegations of the preceding counts, which "hopelessly complicates any effort to untangle what facts apply to which claims or defendants."

Middlebrooks ruled that the court "may not exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendants Dolan, Joffe, or Orbis consistent with the Florida long-arm statute," and that Trump did not "exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing his claim in this Court under the FTCA" in regards to the United States being a "proper party to this action."

In response to the individual allegations brought forth by the amended complaint, Middlebrooks stated that Trump "failed to allege facts that establish RICO standing," "failed to allege the essential elements of an injurious falsehood claim," and "fails to state a cognizable trade secrets claim under the DTSA," amongst other found failures in the case.


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