Judge Orders Trump Lawyers to Pay for Lawsuit Against Hillary Clinton, Democrats

Judge Orders Trump Lawyers to Pay for Lawsuit Against Hillary Clinton, Democrats
Former President Donald Trump speaks in Dallas, Texas, on Aug. 6, 2022. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber
A U.S. judge has ordered lawyers representing former President Donald Trump to pay a defendant named in Trump’s since-dismissed lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.

Trump lawyers, including Alina Habba, misrepresented facts about Charles Dolan, the defendant, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks ruled.

The claims in the original and amended complaint regarding Dolan, including that he once chaired the Democratic National Committee, were not supported by facts, Middlebrooks, a Bill Clinton appointee, said in the 19-page order.

“In short, I find that Mr. Trump’s lawyers were warned about the lack of foundation for their factual contentions, turned a blind eye towards information in their possession, and misrepresented the Danchenko Indictment they claim as their primary support. The lawyers failed to conduct a pre-filing inquiry into the allegations against Mr. Dolan and have continued to advance Plaintiff’s false claims based upon nothing but conjecture, speculation, and guesswork,” Middlebrooks said.

Some of the information about Dolan was drawn from the indictment against Igor Danchenko, the Russian national who was the primary source for ex-British spy Christopher Steele, Trump’s lawyers have said. Special counsel John Durham prosecuted Danchenko for lying to the FBI, but a jury acquitted the man in October.
Dolan took the stand during the case and admitted to lying when he told Danchenko that he had learned information about Trump campaign officials from a GOP source. The information he conveyed was later included nearly word-for-word in the dossier, which Steele compiled on behalf of Clinton and other Democrats.

For instance, Durham said in the indictment against Danchenko that Dolan was in the past the chairman of a “national Democratic political organization.”

Trump’s first complaint said that Dolan formerly chaired the Democratic National Committee. The amended complaint said that Dolan was chairman of a “national Democratic political organization.”

Durham also said that Dolan was connected to three Clinton presidential campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid, which Trump’s lawyers included in both complaints.

The statements were “sourced directly from the Indictment,” Trump’s lawyers said in their opposition to Dolan’s motion for sanctions.

Dolan’s lawyers have claimed that Dolan never chaired a national Democrat organization and was merely a campaign volunteer for the Clinton campaigns.

They also said that complaints falsely said Dolan lives in New York, and that he actually lives in Virginia.

An indictment is full of allegations and should be the “starting point” for a pre-suit investigation, not the end, Middlebrooks said.

Trump “cherry-picked” portions of the indictment while ignoring portions that undermined “his narrative,” the judge also said, adding that the use of the indictment in the complaints was “nothing short of a deliberate disregard of the truth or falsity of their claims.” He also took issue with Habba going on Fox News to discuss the allegations against Clinton and others after Middlebrooks threw out the case. Trump has appealed the dismissal.

Federal rules enable a party to move for sanctions against a lawyer or another party for several reasons, including the presentation of a filing for an “improper purpose” such as harassment.

Middlebrooks ordered Trump’s lawyers to pay $50,000 in sanctions and an additional $16,274 in attorney’s fees.

“Trying to use the courts for political purposes undermines the foundations of our court system, I think that’s the message being sent. That message applies to lawyers and to clients,” George Doumar, an attorney representing Dolan, said in a statement.

“It should be no surprise that we will be appealing this decision,” Habba said in a statement.

The ruling doesn’t apply to any other parties. Clinton and other defendants recently asked the court to impose sanctions of more than $1 million.
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