A federal judge on Friday dismissed five former FBI officials – including former director James Comey and deputy director Andrew McCabe – from a lawsuit that former President Donald Trump filed against them and other political opponents related to the Russia investigation.
Judge Donald Middlebrooks granted the Justice Department’s request to substitute itself as defendants for the former FBI officials, after finding that Trump’s lawsuit covered actions that they took while acting within the scope of their government employment.
This is a victory for the former FBI officials, who no longer have to battle Trump in the civil litigation, which many legal experts have panned as a meritless stunt filled with Trump’s political grievances and self-serving conspiracy theories.
In addition to Comey and McCabe, the judge dismissed the lawsuit against former top FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Kevin Clinesmith, a low-level FBI attorney who pleaded guilty to altering an official document that was used in the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe. (McCabe is a CNN law enforcement analyst.)
The judge did not rule on the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the sprawling lawsuit against the ex-FBI defendants, or similar requests made by the other more than 20 defendants.
In March, Trump sued Hillary Clinton, four top members of her 2016 campaign, the Democratic National Committee and its former chairwoman, Trump-Russia dossier author Christopher Steele, opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and others repeating conspiracy theories, including the debunked claim of a far-reaching “deep state” plot to frame him for Russian collusion in 2016.
Last month, Trump amended the lawsuit to add additional claims.
In the suit, Trump alleged that these Democrats and government officials perpetrated a grab bag of offenses, from a racketeering conspiracy to a malicious prosecution, computer fraud and theft of secret internet data. The lawsuit asks for more than $24 million in costs and damages.
Clinton and many of the Democratic operatives named in the lawsuit worked to weaken Trump by promoting his many Russian connections, which became the subject of special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year inquiry. But there’s no evidence supporting Trump’s oft-repeated claim that the entire Russia probe was an elaborate “hoax” fabricated by these Democrats and top Justice Department and FBI officials, including some that he appointed.