Former US president Donald Trump and one of his lawyers have been sanctioned by a Florida judge – who ordered them to pay almost $1m (£810,000) for what he said was a bogus legal claim against Hillary Clinton and others.
Donald M Middlebrooks accused Trump of a “pattern of abuse of the courts” by filing frivolous claims for political purposes, which he said “undermines the rule of law” and “amounts to obstruction of justice”.
He wrote in a ruling: “Here, we are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose.”
Citing his recent legal action against the Pulitzer Prize board, New York attorney general Letitia James, big technology companies and media giant CNN, Mr Middlebrooks described Trump as a “prolific and sophisticated litigant” who uses the courts “to seek revenge on political adversaries”.
He wrote: “He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process.”
The ruling ordered Trump and his lawyer Alina Habba to pay nearly $938,000 (£758,626) to the defendants in the case.
A spokesman for Trump and Ms Habba did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In September, Mr Middlebrooks dismissed the case Trump filed against his 2016 rival Mrs Clinton, former top FBI officials and the Democratic Party, rejecting the ex-president’s claims they and others conspired to sink his winning presidential campaign by alleging ties to Russia.
Defendants in the claim included Clinton and some of her top advisers, as well as former FBI director James Comey and other FBI officials involved in an investigation into whether Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign worked with Russia to sway the outcome of the election.
Mr Middlebrooks said then the claim had “glaring structural deficiencies” and many of the “characterisations of events are implausible”.
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