A federal judge on Thursday issued sanctions against attorneys for former President Donald Trump, saying they made knowingly false allegations when filing a lawsuit against Democratic-aligned operatives over alleged conspiracies to spread false information about Russian collusion.
“The pleadings in this case contained factual allegations that were either knowingly false or made in reckless disregard for the truth,” wrote Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks of West Palm Beach, Florida, who was appointed in 1997 by President Bill Clinton.
Judge Middlebrooks ordered the lawyers to pay more than $60,000 in penalties, calling the claims they brought “frivolous.” The lawyers are Alina Habba, Michael T. Madaio, Peter Ticktin, Jamie Alan Sasson, and their respective firms.
The judge called the lawyers’ allegations against the defendants “political grievances masquerading as legal claims.”
“This cannot be attributed to incompetent lawyering. It was a deliberate use of the judicial system to pursue a political agenda,” the judge wrote.
The sanctions were requested by Charles Dolan, one of several defendants — including Hillary Clinton — who were sued by Mr. Trump, alleging a sinister plot linking the Trump campaign to Moscow during the 2016 election campaign.
Mr. Dolan asked the court to punish the former president’s lawyers for bringing the litigation, arguing they repeatedly misled the court.
The judge said the former president’s legal team violated Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs how pleadings should be filed, by having a “cavalier attitude,” summoning the wrong defendant due to a mistake in name and calling Mr. Dolan a “former chairman of the DNC.” Mr. Dolan was never chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Mr. Dolan served as a volunteer for the Hillary Clinton campaign, according to court documents.
“Mr. Trump’s lawyers were warned about the lack of foundation for their factual contentions, turned a blind eye towards information in their possession, and misrepresented the Danchenko Indictment they claim as their primary support,” the judge wrote in his order.
Igor Danchenko is a Russian analyst who was caught up in special counsel John Durham’s inquiry into the Russian collusion narrative. He was acquitted last month on charges that he lied to the FBI.
One of Mr. Trump’s lawyers told The Washington Times they’ll appeal the order.
“It should be no surprise that we will be appealing this decision,” said Ms. Habba.
Mr. Ticktin said: “We are disappointed by the decision by Judge Middlebrooks. We attempted to right a wrong, and our reward is a kick in the teeth. Ultimately, this will be decided by a panel of three judges of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, as we believe that the dismissal and the sanctions which followed will ultimately be reversed.”