Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign has asked a federal judge in Florida to dismiss former President Donald Trump’s racketeering case.
The Hillary for America campaign (HFACC) filed a motion to dismiss Trump’s expansive lawsuit with prejudice, so that it cannot be filed again. The suit alleges that the defendants, including the former First Lady and Secretary of State, carried out a plot “in furtherance” of a “scheme to defraud” Trump.
Trump filed the 108-page lawsuit in March, alleging that Clinton and her co-defendants “orchestrated an unthinkable plot—one that shocks the conscience and is an affront to this nation’s democracy.” They “nefariously sought to sway the public’s trust” by working together to “vilify” Trump by linking him and his 2016 presidential campaign to Russia’s alleged interference with the presidential election, he claimed.
Other defendants include the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman (D-Fla.), former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page, Clinton advisor John Podesta, and Christopher Steele, the British former intelligence officer behind the “Steele Dossier.”
While Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s eventual investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible Russia links did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government, Mueller himself said the report did not “exculpate” or “exonerate” Trump of obstruction as Trump and his allies have repeatedly claimed.
HFA: Trump “Has Been Aware of the Purported Injuries for Years”
Monday’s filing adopts the arguments made in previously-filed motions to dismiss already brought by Clinton, Podesta, Wasserman Schultz, the DNC, and others.
According to HFA, Trump’s lawsuit fails first and foremost because his RICO claims have a four-year statute of limitations.
“The allegations that Defendants conspired to (1) create the Steele Dossier, (2) obtain and reveal internet data of a connection between Trump Tower and Alfa Bank, (3) provide false statements to law enforcement, and (4) disseminate false and injurious information, are all alleged events that occurred over four years ago,” the motion to dismiss says. “Moreover, Plaintiff’s own Complaint and his tweets demonstrate that he has been aware of the purported injuries for years.”
On Oct. 29, 2017, Trump tweeted about the same conspiracy alleged in his complaint.
“Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?), the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia, ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist,” Trump tweeted at the time.
“Plaintiff’s own statements reveal that he was on notice of the alleged conspiracy and injury more than four years ago, therefore, his claim is time-barred and should be dismissed,” HFA’s motion says.
Trump’s Allegations “Do Not Come Close” to Supporting RICO Claims
In addition to the procedural matter of the statute of limitations, HFA’s motion to dismiss joins Clinton’s motion arguing that the claims also fail substantively.
“Plaintiff has not plausibly alleged any cognizable RICO enterprise, has not sufficiently alleged the required two predicate acts, has not shown any pattern of racketeering activity, and has failed to adequately allege RICO standing,” HFA’s motion said.
The filing also takes aim at the allegations of obstruction of justice under at least two federal statutes, arguing that in order for such a claim to succeed, there must be an “official proceeding” for the defendants to obstruct.
The complaint focuses only on an FBI investigation, which HFA says is “not an official proceeding under the obstruction of justice statute.”
“Moreover, Plaintiff has failed to allege that HFA withheld, altered, or destroyed evidence in any way,” the motion says. “Plaintiff’s sole allegation is that HFA contributed to the creation of documents that contained purported inaccuracies. Such conduct is not covered by [the statute].”
As to the racketeering claims, HFA argues that Trump’s accusations just don’t add up.
“Plaintiff’s allegations do not come close to showing that HFA engaged in a single RICO predicate act, let alone ‘a pattern of racketeering activity,'” the motion says. “Plaintiff has alleged injury in only the vaguest terms and failed to demonstrate that his alleged $24 million in ‘defense costs’ and lost business opportunities are the direct result of the alleged RICO violation.”
The motion also notes that Trump appears to confuse a legal theory for a claim of liability, pointing to Trump’s claims of “respondeat superior,” which is a legal theory that hews somewhat close to strict liability.
Trump’s complaint says that the DNC, Clinton, and other defendants are “vicariously responsible for the torturous conduct of its agents, servants, representatives, employees, and/or contractors.”
Not so fast, HFA’s motion says.
“Plaintiff’s claim for respondeat superior should be dismissed because it is not a valid cause of action, but rather a theory of liability,” the motion argues.
You can read the motion to dismiss, below.
[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]
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