A federal judge on Thursday ordered sanctions against attorneys for former President Donald Trump in his failed lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and numerous others that he claimed conspired to undermine the 2016 presidential election.
Judge Donald Middlebrooks ordered Trump lawyers Alina Habba, Michael Madaio, Peter Ticktin, Jamie Alan Sasson and their law firms to pay $50,000 in penalties to the court and $16,274.23 in legal fees to Charles Dolan, one of more than two dozen people or entities named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Middlebrooks, who previously dismissed the lawsuit, calling it a “two-hundred page political manifesto,” said the attorneys ignored warnings from Dolan, a volunteer on the Clinton campaign, and his attorney that their facts were wrong, including basic information such as where he lived.
“The pleadings in this case contained factual allegations that were either knowingly false or made in reckless disregard for the truth,” Middlebrooks wrote.
“Not just initiated by a shotgun pleading, this was a shotgun lawsuit. Thirty-one individuals and organizations were summoned to court, forced to hire lawyers to defend against frivolous claims,” the judge wrote. “The only common thread against them was Mr. Trump’s animus.”
Middlebrooks added: “Plaintiff deliberately misrepresented public documents by selectively using some portions while omitting other information including findings and conclusions that contradicted his narrative. … It was too frequent to be accidental. Every claim was frivolous, most barred by settled, well-established existing law. These were political grievances masquerading as legal claims.”
“This cannot be attributed to incompetent lawyering,” he wrote. “It was a deliberate use of the judicial system to pursue a political agenda.”
Dolan’s lawyer, George Doumar, praised the ruling. “Trying to use the courts for political purposes undermines the foundations of our court system, I think that’s the message being sent. That message applies to lawyers and to clients,” Doumar said.
“We gave Trump’s lawyers multiple warnings, and rather than heed the warnings and serve as gatekeepers of the integrity of the court system as lawyers are supposed to do, they doubled down on unsupported allegations and apparently chose not to tell their client that he was so wrong that they couldn’t go forward,” Doumar added.
“It should be no surprise that we will be appealing this decision,” Habba said in a statement following the ruling.
Ticktin called the ruling a “kick in the teeth.”
“Of course, we are disappointed by the decision by Judge Middlebrooks. We attempted to right a wrong, and our reward is a kick in the teeth,” Ticktin told CNN. “Ultimately, this will be decided by a panel of three judges of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, as we believe that the dismissal and the sanctions which followed will ultimately be reversed.”
Trump has also appealed the dismissal of the lawsuit.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.