Trump Defends His Clinton Suit in Fight Over $1 Million in Legal Fees

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump sought to avoid paying more than $1 million in legal fees and costs to Hillary Clinton and dozens of others by arguing he was justified in accusing them of participating in a vast conspiracy against him.

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“The imposition of sanctions is a drastic remedy,” Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a filing Monday night in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida, calling Clinton’s demand for fees and costs “exorbitant.”

US District Judge Donald Middlebrooks dismissed the suit in September, ruling the 193-page complaint amounted to a “manifesto” that was filed too late and failed to back up Trump’s claims about the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into Russian collusion.

Last month, Clinton asked Middlebrooks to sanction Trump and his legal team for allegedly basing their claims on theories that “were obviously and fatally defective from the very inception of this action.” For example, she said Trump didn’t come close to backing up his allegation that Democrats cooked up fake evidence to trigger the FBI probe.

Habba disagreed, saying in the Monday filing that Clinton’s motion disregarded weighty aspects of the complaint. The lawyer also challenged Clinton’s contention that she used footnotes in the complaint to include inflammatory allegations about the Democrats that couldn’t be supported with facts, saying that “was never plaintiff counsel’s intention.”

The judge has already signaled his displeasure with the case, granting a separate request for sanctions against Trump’s lawyers by one defendant, Democratic political operative Charles Dolan. The judge ordered Trump’s lawyers to pay $16,274 in fees and costs to Dolan, plus $50,000 to the court.

Read More: Trump Lawyers Sanctioned Over ‘Negligent’ Clinton Lawsuit

Clinton’s attorney David E. Kendall declined to comment.

In his filing, the former president’s lawyer rebutted Clinton’s argument that his was a political stunt. Clinton had cited Habba’s discussions about the case on Fox News -- including her assertion that Trump suggested she not file the suit because the courts are biased.

“Her appearance on Fox News does not in any way indicate that she, or any other Plaintiff’s Counsel, prosecuted this action in bad faith,” according to the filing. “They simply demonstrate that Ms. Habba is a zealous advocate for her client, that she staunchly believes in the viability of the underlying claims, and that she has extensively familiarity with the relevant evidence.”

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