Former President Donald Trump stands on the 18th green during the Pro-Am tournament prior to the LIV golf series at Trump National Doral on October 27, 2022.
Jasen Vinlove | USA Today Sports | Reuters
Former President Donald Trump voluntarily dropped a lengthy Florida federal lawsuit against New York’s attorney general on Friday morning — a day after the same judge in the case fined him and his attorney nearly $1 million for alleging another, “frivolous” had filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and many other defendants.
Judge John Middlebrooks made it clear in a damning sanctions decision in the Clinton case Thursday night that he was also handling Trump’s complaint against Attorney General Letitia James in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Trump’s lawsuit against James – which Middlebrooks warned last month as “annoying and frivolous” – was filed in response to her own civil suit against Trump in New York state court alleging fraud at his company.
James’ spokeswoman Delaney Kempner noted that Trump’s dismissal of his lawsuit came on the same day that his “response to our motion to dismiss this case was due.” It also came two days after Middlebrooks scheduled a jury trial of the suit, set to begin in mid-July.
In the Clinton case, Middlebrooks ordered Trump, who is seeking the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, and his attorney, Alina Habba, to pay Clinton and other defendants approximately $938,000 to file the lawsuit, which the judge previously dismissed.
Trump’s lawsuit accused Clinton and the others, including the Democratic National Committee and various FBI officials, of conspiring to create a false narrative during the 2016 presidential election that his campaign colluded with Russia.
“We are faced with a lawsuit that should never have been brought, that was utterly frivolous in both fact and law, and was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose,” Middlebrooks wrote in his court order against Trump and Habba with fines.
New York Attorney General Letitia James pauses during a news conference at the Attorney General’s office in New York May 9, 2022 to make an announcement about protecting access to abortion.
Timothy A Clary | AFP | Getty Images
Middlebrooks’ order cited Trump’s response in court in New York to James’ years-long civil investigation into his company, the Trump Organization, as one of many examples of “a pattern of abuse of the courts” by the Republican former president.
“Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who repeatedly uses the courts to exact revenge on political opponents,” the judge wrote.
“He is the mastermind of strategic misuse of the court process, and he cannot be considered a litigant blindly following a lawyer’s advice.”
James filed a lawsuit against Trump, his company, three of his adult children and others in Manhattan Supreme Court in September, alleging widespread fraud with false financial statements related to the company’s business.
In November, Trump sued James in a Florida state court, alleging that she was involved in a “war of intimidation and harassment” against him. This lawsuit was aimed at preventing James from obtaining records from a revocable trust he formed in Florida that owns the Trump Organization.
Shortly thereafter, James brought this lawsuit to federal court in Florida, where Middelbrooks was assigned the case.
Middlebrooks noted in his decision in the Clinton case Thursday that he ruled last month that Trump’s “attempt to circumvent New York court decisions by suing AG James individually and not in their official capacity was simply frivolous.”
The judge also found that Trump had “no prospect of success on the merits” of the case and had urged Trump to consider dropping his opposition to James’ offer to get the case.
“This lawsuit [against James] has all the telltale signs of being both annoying and frivolous,” Middlebrooks wrote last month.
But the judge later wrote, “A decision in Mr. Trump’s Florida lawsuit against the New York Attorney General, a case now pending before me, is premature.”
A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a question about why the lawsuit against James was voluntarily dismissed.