Judge rejects Trump lawsuit vs. Clinton, others as 'hyperbole'

Former U.S. president Donald Trump rally in Wilkes-Barre
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in support of candidates Doug Mastriano and Mehmet Oz during a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 3, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

WASHINGTON, Sept 9 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has dismissed Donald Trump's lawsuit against his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, saying the former Republican president's allegations that Democrats tried to rig that election by linking his campaign to Russia was an attempt to "flaunt" political grievances that did not belong in court.

In throwing out Trump's lawsuit Thursday night, Judge Donald Middlebrooks of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida said the lawsuit was not seeking "redress for any legal harm" and that the court was "not the appropriate forum" for the former president's complaints.

"He is seeking to flaunt a two-hundred-page political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him," Middlebrooks said in his ruling.

What Trump's lawsuit "lacks in substance and legal support it seeks to substitute with length, hyperbole and the settling of scores," Middlebrooks wrote, adding that he also reserved jurisdiction "to adjudicate issues pertaining to sanctions," which affect Trump's lawyers who filed the case.

Trump in March had sued Clinton, who was the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, and other Democrats alleging "racketeering," a "conspiracy to commit injurious falsehood" and other claims in a lengthy lawsuit that echoed the long list of grievances he repeatedly aired during his four years in the White House after beating Clinton. read more

He had sought compensatory and punitive damages, saying he had incurred more than $24 million in "defense costs, legal fees, and related expenses."

In his ruling, Middlebrooks said Trump had waited too long to file his complaint by exceeding the legal statute of limitations for his claims and that he failed to make his case that he was harmed by any falsehoods, noting that many of the statements made by the defendants were "plainly protected by the First Amendment" of the U.S. Constitution.

Trump lawyer Alina Habba, in a statement, said the former president would immediately appeal the decision.

Representatives for Clinton did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday's ruling. Clinton had earlier petitioned the court to dismiss the case, saying Trump's lawsuit recounted "A litany of threadbare allegations... unsupported by any facts."

Other defendants included Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, who led one of the U.S. House of Representatives' impeachments against Trump, and Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who wrote a dossier circulated to the FBI and media outlets before the 2016 election.

U.S. intelligence officials and others in the U.S. government have accused Russia of meddling in that election. Moscow has denied that it interfered in the campaign.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Paul Simao

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