The unusual lawsuit suggests that a “deep state” was actively conspiring to block former President Donald Trump from assuming and regaining office in 2016 and 2020.
A federal judge has dismissed five former F.B.I. officials, including former agency Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, from a wide-ranging lawsuit that former President Donald Trump filed against his political opponents, alleging that they conspired to instigate a “witch hunt” against him.
According to CNN, Judge Donald Middlebrook granted the Department of Justice’s request to substitute itself as a defendant for the former the F.B.I. officials.
Middlebrook consented to the replacement after government attorneys persuaded the court that Trump’s allegations relate to actions Comey and his colleagues took within the scope of their government employment.
CNN notes that court’s consent could prove a fatal blow to Trump’s unusual lawsuit, which some legal experts have panned as a blatant political stunt that serves more to caress the former president’s fragile ego than fulfill any legitimate judicial purpose.
In addition to Comey and James, Middlebrook also dismissed as defendants former F.B.I. counter-intelligence official Peter Strzok, former F.B.I. attorneys Lisa Page, and former F.B.I. legal counsel Kevin Clinesmith.
Clinesmith, adds CNN, had earlier pleaded guilty to an allegation that he altered an official document used in the F.B.I.’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump election campaign and the Russian government.
However, Middlebrook did not rule on the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety, or similar requests made by an additional 20 individual defendants.
As LegalReader.com reported earlier this year, former President Donald Trump filed his sprawling lawsuit in March, naming high-profile Democrats and political opponents, including Hillary Clinton, members of her 2016 election campaign, and an author.
The lawsuit reiterates many of Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories, including the suggestion that a “deep state” conspired to frame him for collusion in 2016.
AboveTheLaw.com notes that Middlebrook also rejected Trump’s later motion to postpone a trial until November of 2023, citing the need to reappraise potential defendants.
In his response to Trump’s motion, Middlebrook appeared critical of Trump’s litigation.
“These representations are vague, and do not constitute good cause for an extension,” Middlebrook said. “Plaintiff fails to offer any specific details about the discovery he anticipates needing or why he will be unable to obtain that discovery before the trial date that I have set.”
Trump, adds The Hill, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest development.
The Hill states that former Attorney General William Barr appointed a special counsel—John Durham—to investigate the origins of the F.B.I.’s probe into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion.
While Durham indicted several individuals, he was able to collect or demonstrate any compelling evidence that there was a wide-ranging or significant conspiracy by the “deep state” to hinder the political ambitions of Trump, a historically unpopular president who lost the popular vote in both 2016 and 2020.