In a scathing ruling, a federal judge in Florida on Thursday ordered Donald J. Trump and one of his lawyers together to pay nearly a million dollars in sanctions for filing a frivolous lawsuit against nearly three dozen of Mr. Trump’s perceived political enemies, including Hillary Clinton and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey.
The ruling was a significant rebuke of Mr. Trump, who has rarely faced such consequences in his long history of using the courts as a weapon against business rivals and partners, as well as former employees and reporters.
In an indication that the ruling may have had immediate consequences, other Florida-based lawyers for Mr. Trump filed a terse notice on Friday that he was voluntarily dropping a lawsuit he had filed against the attorney general of New York, Letitia James. Mr. Trump had filed the suit against Ms. James over the objections of his own longstanding legal advisers, who had told him it was frivolous.
Thursday’s sanctions ruling in the Clinton conspiracy case — which followed an earlier imposition of sanctions for one defendant in the same case — was the latest setback for Mr. Trump as he faces a broad range of legal problems and criminal investigations. His lawyers are increasingly under scrutiny themselves for their actions in those cases, as well as divided in the advice they are offering him.
“This case should never have been brought,” U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks wrote in a 46-page ruling. “Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim.” [Continue reading…]