While Donald Trump managed to find a highly unqualified judge who was willing to work hand in hand with his attorneys to grant his “special master” request, his court shopping isn’t always so effective. Back in March, Trump filed a sprawling, 108-page conspiracy theory-laden lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and others, claiming that he was the victim of a “conspiracy to commit injurious falsehood” and basically that people had the audacity to try and stop him from winning the 2016 election. Clinton’s name may be at the top of the list, but the actual suit includes 35 named defendants, 10 John Does, 10 corporations, and the government. The list of charges is even longer.
Over the last few months, Trump’s legal team has responded to questions about the filing by making it even longer, padding it with more rambling pages, even more claims, and with complaints that Federal District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks was also part of this grand conspiracy. On Thursday, Middlebrooks spent 65 pages explaining everything wrong with Trump’s ludicrous suit before dismissing “with prejudice” the charges against Clinton and others. The judge also sliced and diced claims from Trump that he was being nickeled and dimed over legal technicalities.
The inadequacies with Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint are not “merely issues of technical pleading,” as Plaintiff contends, but fatal substantive defects that preclude Plaintiff from proceeding under any of the theories he has presented. 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.
What makes this extra fun is that Trump really thought he might get something out of this despite the fact that the lawsuit reads very much like a transcription of one of his rambling, paranoia-filled rally speeches and includes an amazing list of charges against Clinton, the government, and everyone who opened their mouth to point out that Trump was, without a doubt, the worst candidate ever to stand for any office. Christopher Steele? In there. Peter Strzok? Of course. James Comey, Lisa Page, Fusion GPS, Bruce and Nelly Ohr, the DNC … Oh, the gang’s all here.
All of them are terrible, because not only does Donald Trump think that the only way he can lose an election is if someone cheated, he also believes that running against him in an election is a crime.
Why did Trump think any of this would work? Because Trump did with this suit did just what he did with the special master request: He filed it in a location where he knew there was a right-wing judge he had appointed. When his special master request reached Judge Aileen Cannon, she didn’t throw it back for not being properly filed or formed, she helped Trump’s attorney’s revise the document to get it over the transom. And when Trump failed to even make a request for injunction or relief that was okay because Cannon filled those those things in for him.
Trump certainly expected the same kind of loving care on this suit. However, the district court docketing system happened to toss the case to Middlebrooks. Who was appointed by President Bill Clinton. And Middlebrooks proceeded to make a tasty meal of Trump’s nonsense.
Trump tried to put the brakes on this outcome earlier by demanding back in April that Middlebrooks recuse himself because he wasn’t nominated by Trump. Middlebrooks took no time in denying Trump’s demand and explaining how all this is supposed to work.
Every federal judge is appointed by a president who is affiliated with a major political party, and therefore every federal judge could theoretically be viewed as beholden, to some extent or another. As judges, we must all transcend politics.
That would be nice. In this case, Middlebrooks then got on with the business of writing a novella on the silliness behind Trump’s claims.
In his lawsuit, Trump alleges that everyone, just everyone, was involved in a conspiracy in which they sought to “nefariously sway the public’s trust” and that they “worked together with a single, self-serving purpose: to vilify Donald J. Trump.”
If that was a crime, then a few hundred million people in this country would certainly be guilty. Fortunately, trying to win an election is still legal, for now.
Middlebrooks spent considerable time detailing the ways in which everything about Trump’s suit was the worst kind of nonsense. Not only did Trump wait so long in filing the complaint that he was well beyond the legal statute of limitations for such civil claims, this lawsuit repeated exactly the primary failing of his special master claim by failing to note any way in which Trump was actually harmed by any of the actions he described, or why anything said by Clinton and others was not “plainly protected by the First Amendment.”
The judge also made clear—at length—that court was not the place for this kind of dispute, that there was nothing that looked like legal harm to be found anywhere in all Trump’s claims, and that you can’t sue people just because you don’t like them.
In particular, Trump tossed in claims such as “racketeering” but failed to provide a single example of activity that fit such a charge. Middlebrooks actually pointed this out the last time he punted the suit back to Trump’s attorneys, but no one seems to have listened.
Fundamentally, Plaintiff cannot state a RICO claim without two predicate acts, and, after two attempts, he has failed to plausibly allege even one. Plaintiff cannot state an injurious falsehood claim without allegations of harm to his property interests. And Plaintiff cannot state a malicious prosecution claim without a judicial proceeding, but he unsuccessfully attempts to misconstrue, misstate, and misapply the law to do so anyway.
Trump claimed racketeering, but provided no evidence; charged that he was injured without showing any harm; and claimed “malicious prosecution” over something that didn’t even involve a court case. It is all just as foolish as it sounds.
But since, of course, the real purpose of this suit was to generate emails saying “Donald Trump needs $5 FROM YOU by MIDNIGHT or HILLARY Clinton might WIN!” What actually happened in court is of little consequence.
And Trump can now see if he can get such a filing in front of Cannon. She’s so helpful.
Donald Trump and his MAGA allies came close to overthrowing our democracy on January 6, and they will try again if they win in 2022. The best thing you can do is to help get out the Democratic vote for the midterms, and we need everyone to do what they can. Click here to find all the volunteer opportunities available.
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