A federal judge in Florida has tossed a racketeering lawsuit that Donald Trump filed against Hillary Clinton and a slew of other defendants—dismantling his claims one by one in an absolutely withering critique.
“It is not simply that I find the Amended Complaint ‘inadequate in any respect,’” Judge Donald Middlebrooks writes at one point. “It is inadequate in nearly every respect.”
Trump filed the suit in March alleging that Clinton and the others “orchestrated a malicious conspiracy to disseminate patently false and injurious information” about his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.
After the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, Trump’s lawyers filed a 193-page amended complaint, adding a new claim of wire fraud—and the judge writes, “eighty new pages of largely irrelevant allegations that did nothing to salvage the legal sufficiency of his claims.”
Trump had no immediate comment on the dismissal.
Middlebrooks, who was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton, makes clear from the outset that he thinks the complaint filed by Trump’s lawyers is legal gobbledygook.
“Plaintiff’s theory of this case, set forth over 527 paragraphs in the first 118 pages of the Amended Complaint, is difficult to summarize in a concise and cohesive manner. It was certainly not presented that way,” he writes.
“More troubling, the claims presented in the Amended Complaint are not warranted under existing law. In fact, they are foreclosed by existing precedent, including decisions of the Supreme Court,” Middlebrooks writes.
“To illustrate, I highlight here just two glaring problems with the Amended Complaint. There are many others. But these are emblematic of the audacity of Plaintiff’s legal theories and the manner in which they clearly contravene binding case law.”
Over the course of a 65-page ruling, Middlebrooks eviscerates Trump’s various arguments, detailing how his claims are outside the statute of limitations, lack standing, twist reasoning, defy known facts, or misinterpret the law.
As one example, he notes that “perplexingly” Trump argues that the defendants obstructed investigation Crossfire Hurricane—the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference—“by contributing to the initiation of Crossfire Hurricane.”
“That Defendants could have obstructed a proceeding by initiating it defies logic,” Middlebrooks writes.
The judge points out another headscratcher, wondering how Trump can claim any “supposed falsehoods” damaged his political career when he must know that “he—not Defendant Clinton—won the 2src16 presidential election.”
Trump’s attorneys had asked for permission to file another amended complaint in the event that the judge did not buy these arguments, but Middlebrooks rejected that and dismissed the complaint with prejudice.
It was, he wrote, not so much a legal document as a rant.
“What the Amended Complaint lacks in substance and legal support it seeks to substitute with length, hyperbole, and the settling of scores and grievances,” he writes.
“At its core, the problem with Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint is that Plaintiff is not attempting to seek redress for any legal harm; instead, 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,” he adds.
Zachary Petrizzo contributed reporting