Yesterday came and went without New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron issuing his promised ruling in Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial. Business Insider says he needs another week to find some more zeroes for the civil fine he’s about to drop on the former president and his eponymous business. And another Tuesday passed with no ruling from the DC Circuit on Trump’s claim of magical eternal presidential immunity to shield him from prosecution in the election interference case.
But fear not! Our friends across the pond have delivered us our weekly ration of Trump judicial ass kicking as Judge Karen Steyn booted Trump’s revenge suit over the infamous Steele Dossier for being outside the statute of limitations.
In October of 2023, Trump sued former MI6 agent Chris Steele along with his company Orbis Business Intelligence, which was paid by the Clinton campaign to do oppo research on then-candidate Trump. Steele produced a dossier alleging various nefarious business dealings, as well as the infamous “pee tape” story.
According to the Washington Post, a libel suit against Steele and Orbis brought by Russian businessman Aleksej Gubarev was rejected in 2020 because Steele and Orbis bore no responsibility for the publication in January of 2017 when the dossier was leaked to BuzzFeed. But oligarchs German Khan, Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman did manage to extract $66,000 from the dossier authors through a lawsuit alleging that the dossier inaccurately reported their personal data, and so that was the route Trump took as well.
Nevertheless, he presented the suit in terms which sure sound like defamation and would make this a prime candidate for a SLAPP suit were it filed on this side of the water in a jurisdiction with an anti-SLAPP statute on the books.
Trump complained that it was “extremely distressing” for him to be “compelled to explain to his family, friends, and colleagues that the embarrassing allegations about his private life were untrue.”
“A judgment of the English court on this issue will be an immense relief to me as it will completely confirm the true position to the public at large,” he said in witness statement in which he promised to come and testify in person.
At a hearing in October, Steele’s counsel Antony White argued that the case was “bound to fail on limitation grounds and because any reputational damage, and any resulting distress, allegedly suffered will have been caused by the BuzzFeed publication, for which the claimant accepts Orbis is not liable.”
And Mrs Justice Karen Steyn agreed that the claim was indeed time barred. In an excerpt of her statement reported by the Daily Mail, she wrote:
In my view, there are no compelling reasons to allow the claim to proceed to trial in circumstances where, whatever the merits of the allegation that the personal data are inaccurate may be, the claim for compensation and/or damages… is bound to fail.
In reality, the claimant is seeking court findings to vindicate his reputation in circumstances where has not been able to formulate any viable remedy which he would have a real prospect of obtaining, or which would itself be of any utility; and having chosen to allow many years to elapse – without any attempt to vindicate his reputation in this jurisdiction – since he was first made aware of the dossier, including the memoranda, on 6 January 2017.
Which is a very polite version of what Judge Donald Middlebrooks wrote back in 2022 when he dropkicked Trump’s insane RICO LOLsuit against Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Chris Steele, Orbis, and half the Democrats in DC. Except Judge Steyn left out the part about “seeking to flaunt a two-hundred-page political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him, and this Court is not the appropriate forum.” And she didn’t whack Trump and his lawyers with a million dollars in sanctions.
But other than that, SAME.
Now if only Judges Henderson, Pan, and Childs could get on it already …
Breaking: Donald Trump’s data protection lawsuit against UK firm Orbis over ‘false and phoney’ allegations he took part in ‘perverted’ sex acts and gave bribes to Russian officials is thrown out by judge [Daily Mail]
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she produces the Law and Chaos substack and podcast.