Last week, US District Judge Donald Middlebrooks slapped sanctions on former president Trump and his lawyers for filing “a two-hundred-page political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him” masquerading as a lawsuit. The case involved a bizarre claim that Hillary Clinton conspired with former FBI Director James Comey and half of DC to gin up investigations of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Of course he alleged this amounted to A RICO. Obviously.
Along the way, Trump’s genius lawyer Alina Habba made multiple appearances on Fox and Newsmax, both slagging the judge and stating that “the real goal [of the suit] is, is democracy, is continuing to make sure that our elections, continuing to make sure our justice system is not obstructed by political enemies,” effectively admitting that the case was not an effort to recover for any actual injury.
Upwards of a dozen more plaintiffs have moved for sanctions and attorneys fees, and, judging by Judge Middlebrooks’ response to the first such motion, Trump and his client should get out their checkbooks.
And so it is more than a little bit funny that yet another Trump lawsuit, one that is arguably even dumber than that RICO turkey, has just landed on Judge Middlebrooks’s docket.
Because a couple of weeks ago, Trump sued New York Attorney General Letitia James, in both her official and individual capacities, in Florida state court to block her getting a court order from the state of New York to hand over documents relating to the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, which holds most of his assets.
The suit accused James of engaging in a “relentless, pernicious, public, and unapologetic crusade against President Trump, a resident of Palm Beach County, Florida, with the stated goal of destroying him personally, financially, and politically.” By which he means filing an enforcement action against him alleging decades of fraudulent business practices, and getting court orders for him to comply with civil process.
“Suffice it to say that these actions are contrary to both the laws of New York and Florida,” the complaint went on, before gesturing vaguely in the direction of his “right of property and privacy” as an individual and as grantor of the trust. On Tuesday this was amended to ask for emergency injunctive relief to block the AG from getting a copy of the trust, as well as damages. But before the trial court got to Trump’s request, AG James removed the case to the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida under diversity jurisdiction.
Which is how this whole mess wound up in the last place on earth Donald Trump would like to litigate a meritorious case — and this one is the farthest thing from that.
So, EL OH EL, and also HEY-O to Trump’s attorneys Timothy W. Weber, Jeremy D. Bailie and R. Quincy Bird, members from the St. Petersburg-based law firm of Weber Crabb Wein, who are now practicing before a very pissed off judge who has shown himself perfectly willing to levy monetary sanctions against counsel who file frivolous, dogshit motions in his courtroom.
Trump v. James [Docket via Court Listener]
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.