WASHINGTON: A federal US judge sanctioned former president Donald Trump and his lawyers nearly $1 million Thursday for a "frivolous" lawsuit claiming Hillary Clinton had tried to rig the 2016 election.
District Judge John Middlebrooks said the Republican, who is seeking to return to the White House in 2024, exhibited a "continuing pattern of misuse of the courts" and had filed the suit "in order to dishonestly advance a political narrative."
The lawsuit, which Middlebrooks tossed out last year, claimed that Clinton, who lost the 2016 presidential election to Trump, and others had created a false narrative about his campaign.
Trump had sought $70 million in damages.
But the suit "should never have been brought," Middlebrooks said in the 45-page written court order.
"Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim," the judge wrote.
The order also sanctions Trump's lawyer Alina Habba.
The pair are jointly and severally liable for the total amount of sanctions imposed by Middlebrooks to cover the defendants' legal fees and costs: $937,989.39.
Middlebrooks wrote that Trump is "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."