Hillary Clinton is moving quickly to shut down an epic federal lawsuit that former President Donald Trump filed last month accusing her, her political allies and various government officials of a racketeering conspiracy to propagate false claims about Trump and Russia in connection with the 2016 presidential race.
In a motion filed Wednesday with a federal court in South Florida, Clinton’s attorneys say the sprawling, 108-page complaint is entirely without legal merit and amounts to little more than a publicity stunt.
“Whatever the utility of Plaintiff’s Complaint as a fundraising tool, a press release, or a list of political grievances, it has no merit as a lawsuit, and should be dismissed with prejudice,” longtime Clinton attorney David Kendall wrote.
While some other defendants have sought to stall the suit as they assess how to respond, Clinton’s lawyers wasted little time in asking U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks to dismiss the claims against her “with prejudice” — meaning Trump would not be able to reformulate the suit and re-file.
As a technical matter, Clinton’s motion applies only to her, so it can’t shut down the entire case. However, other defendants — who include various Clinton campaign aides, former Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former FBI Director James Comey and ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok — could join in Clinton’s legal move to torpedo the suit.
At least some of those defendants are expected to be represented by the Justice Department or government-paid attorneys.
Clinton’s filing spends little time parsing the far-fetched and often incomprehensible allegations Trump makes against her, such as theft of trade secrets and witness tampering.
“Clinton vigorously disputes the allegations in the Complaint,” her attorneys write. “But even taking those allegations as true, Plaintiff fails to plead any cognizable legal causes of action.”
The filing asserts some very basic flaws are fatal to Trump’s suit, chief among them that the famously litigious former president and real estate mogul took too long to come to court. Clinton’s lawyers say the statute of limitations for the claims in Trump’s case ranges from two to four years, but the various assertions about Trump’s ties to Russia were out in the open in 2017.
“Notwithstanding his rousing, all-caps call to action, Plaintiff waited four years, four months, and twenty-four days before filing suit,” Kendall wrote. “His delay renders each of his claims untimely.”
Clinton’s attorneys also say Trump is trying to turn run-of-the-mill political opposition into a court case.
“At most, Plaintiff alleges that other entities sought to further Clinton’s candidacy and, after the election, politically opposed Plaintiff’s administration,” Clinton’s motion argues. “This is conduct plainly protected by the First Amendment, and there is nothing unlawful about engagement in political activity.”
Earlier this month, Trump asked Middlebrooks to recuse himself from the suit because he was appointed by Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton. But the West Palm Beach-based judge promptly swatted down that request, saying he’d never met either Clinton.
Middlebrooks also said that having judges step off cases involving political allies of the president who appointed them could grind the federal courts to a halt.
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