Trump May Have Missed His Opportunity to Stick It to Hillary Clinton

Former President Donald Trump might have missed the window to take down Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and others with a sweeping RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act) lawsuit.

This week, both Clinton and the chairman of her 2016 presidential campaign John Podesta, who is also named as a defendant in the suit, filed motions to dismiss Trump's case, arguing that the statute of limitations on the former president's claims has expired.

In a 108-page lawsuit, Trump alleged that the defendants "maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty [Russia]."

The suit, which was filed in March, is seeking a jury trial and compensatory damages of at least $24 million, which it argues Trump has lost as a result of the defendants' actions.

Trump Hillary Clinton Lawsuit
Hillary Clinton is being sued by former President Trump over claims she made about him in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Clinton speaks on May 05, 2022 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi/Getty

However, in two separate filings, Clinton and Podesta have argued that Trump's claims are "time-barred," noting that the statute of limitations to commit a RICO violation is four years from the date the injury was or should have been discovered.

Michael McAuliffe, former federal prosecutor and former elected state attorney pointed to Newsweek that the "injurious falsehoods" documented by Trump in the complaint largely took place in 2015 and 2016—dates that would put the gap in time at six to seven years.

"One doesn't have to be a lawyer or a judge to ask the question: Why didn't the plaintiff file the suit years ago?" McAuliffe said.

In the court documents, attorneys for Clinton and Podesta also argued that Trump was well-aware of the alleged conspiracy at the time, citing a number of tweets from the former president that referenced those claims.

"Some of the reasons you might be able to extend the statute of limitations is that there was active concealment of any kind of fraud by the defendant," Ion Meyn, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin, told Newsweek. "Here, it'd be very hard to argue act of concealment when you're pleading that you knew about it."

While Trump's team has yet to respond to the motion, plaintiffs in civil RICO cases face much higher pleading requirements in order to move the case forward.

"They have Podesta here, they have Clinton there and they have some of the other actors over there. I don't even know if you can find two credited acts for one actor—which is a basic requirement for RICO," Meyn said.

McAuliffe said this could be an issue that proves Trump's case to be "more about retelling a story in a formal forum of the courts than in establishing any legal liability."