Former presidential candidate and senator Hillary Clinton filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the racketeering lawsuit brought by former president Donald Trump late last month.
“Whatever the utility of [Trump’s lawsuit] as a fundraising tool, a press release, or a list of political grievances, it has no merit as a lawsuit, and should be dismissed with prejudice,” Clinton’s attorneys David Kendall and David Oscar Markus wrote in the introduction of the 29-page filing.
The fulcrum of the former first lady’s legal brief is that the most substantial claims made by the 45th president in his lawsuit were simply made too late.
“The gravamen of [Trump’s] claims concerns alleged events occurring in 2016 and 2017, so the statute of limitations on his claims expired long ago,” the motion argues, citing the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure that governs dismissals based on “time-barred” claims.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Trump filed a 16-count, 108-page lawsuit against various defendants, including the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), former FBI director James Comey, and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, on March 24, 2022.
The first two counts of Trump’s lawsuit allege conspiracy and violations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Those allegations are premised on the notion that Clinton and several dozen other defendants, named and unnamed, engaged in a massive conspiracy to tar and undermine Trump, his 2016 presidential campaign and subsequent presidential administration with the mostly-debunked Russiagate scandal. The core of that conspiracy, Trump alleges, was the creation of the largely discredited Steele dossier.
Clinton’s motion summarizes Trump’s key points:
First, he alleges that Defendants conspired in the creation of the Steele Dossier. Second, he alleges that Defendants conspired to obtain and reveal Domain Name System internet traffic information from various computers. Third, he alleges that Defendants conspired to provide false statements to law enforcement, which he asserts were single-handedly responsible for a variety of investigations into Plaintiff, his campaign, and his associates. Finally, he alleges that Defendants “orchestrated a malicious conspiracy to disseminate patently false and injurious information”—that is, public speech with which he disagrees.
The filing goes on to detail several dates when information was published about each of Trump’s four separate allegations for the RICO claims–including instances where Trump himself acknowledged or alleged the underlying facts that form the basis of his recent legal filings.
According to Clinton’s motion, Trump was aware of all the alleged conspiratorial activity in 2016 and 2017–at the very latest.
“Indeed, all of [Trump’s] claims accrued no later than October 29, 2017, when [Trump] publicly asserted that Clinton was responsible for the Steele Dossier, ‘the Comey fix,’ and ‘phony’ stories on his collusion with Russia, and claimed the facts of the alleged conspiracy were ‘pouring out,'” the motion says. “Because the claim accrued no later than October 29, 2017—the date by which Plaintiff’s own statements and allegations make clear he was aware of not only his alleged injury, but also the supposed conspiracy and Clinton’s alleged role in it—the statute of limitations expired by October 29, 2021.”
Under Supreme Court precedent, the statute of limitations for RICO claims is four years based on the “injury discovery accrual rule,” which starts the clock ticking when a person knew or should have known they were injured by the alleged RICO activity.
“These allegations form the gravamen of all of [Trump’s] claims,” the filing says. “But notwithstanding his rousing, all-caps call to action, [Trump] waited four years, four months, and twenty-four days before filing suit. His delay renders each of his claims untimely.”
The motion to dismiss also briefly disputes Trump’s 16 counts on the merits.
As for the RICO allegations, the motion to dismiss argues that Clinton “is not a proper defendant” because she did not engage “in any cognizable RICO enterprise” or a sustained pattern of RICO predicate crimes.
“At most, [Trump] alleges that other entities sought to further Clinton’s candidacy and, after the election, politically opposed [Trump’s] administration,” the motion argues. “This is conduct plainly protected by the First Amendment, and there is nothing unlawful about engagement in political activity.”
Under longstanding RICO precedent cited in the motion, plaintiffs must generally allege that the activity is “continuing” or that they are faced with the threat of such continued unlawful activity.
Clinton’s legal team says Trump has failed to do that.
“The only continuing conduct [Trump] alleges are instances of public speech—acts that are not RICO predicates, so cannot support an ongoing ‘pattern’ of offenses,” the motion says. “This lays bare [Trump’s] claim for what it is: a lawsuit aimed at political speech he does not like.”
Read the filing in full below:
[image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]
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