A federal judge has fined former President Donald Trump and his lawyer Alina Habba nearly $1 million in Florida for filing what the judge deemed a frivolous lawsuit alleging that Hillary Clinton and others connected to the Russia investigation unlawfully conspired to harm Trump’s reputation.
The opinion from Judge Donald Middlebrooks calls Trump “a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries.”
“He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process, and he cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer. He knew full well the impact of his actions,” Middlebrooks wrote in his opinion.
“As such, I find that sanctions should be imposed upon Mr. Trump and his lead counsel, Ms. Habba,” wrote the judge.
An inquiry for comment from ABC News did not receive a response from Habba.
Trump sued Clinton, his rival for the 2016 presidential election, alleging that she had “acted in concert” with senior FBI officials to create the so-called Russia investigation into intervention in the election. Trump had said that a tiny group of Clinton supporters well-positioned within the Department of Justice caused the Russia investigation to be “prolonged and aggravated.”
Judge Middlebrooks dismissed the complaint in September of last year.
Late Thursday, Middlebrooks granted sanctions requiring Habba and Trump to pay $938,000 to the case’s 18 defendants.
“A continuing pattern of misuse of the courts by Mr. Trump and his lawyers undermines the rule of law, portrays judges as partisans, and diverts resources from those who have suffered actual legal harm,” Middlebrooks wrote in his opinion.
The New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a $250 million lawsuit against Trump and his family in September for allegedly defrauding lenders and other parties with false and misleading financial statements. The judge also warned Trump’s attorneys that they could face sanctions over their separate lawsuit targeting James.