Fox News host Sean Hannity loves to tout the ridiculous lawsuits that Donald Trump’s lawyers keep filing against the former president’s enemies. But when those suits fail — and they almost always do — he either ignores the results or denounces the judge dismissing the lawsuit.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks tossed Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and various other people and entities for purportedly conspiring to undermine his 2016 presidential campaign by tying him to Russia. In dismissing the lawsuit — in part with prejudice — Middlebrooks criticized its application of law and factual accuracy. He even suggested that Trump’s attorneys may face sanctions.
The lawsuit had drawn praise on Hannity’s program the night it was initially filed for supposedly having “all the necessary predicates for a racketeering case.” When Middlebrooks dismissed the suit, the Fox host denounced his action as a symptom of a “two-tiered system of justice in this country” that is “undermining faith in our most important institutions.”
Trump is extraordinarily litigious and regularly threatens dubious legal action to garner attention. His ultimatums frequently fall apart in court, when they materialize at all. That trend has continued since Trump left office, with his lawyers repeatedly filing complaints that immediately meet with scorn and derision from the legal community.
But Hannity is both a close adviser to Trump and one of his most obsequious supporters, so that history has not dissuaded him from credulously promoting the former president’s legal actions.
The Fox host has propped up at least three Trump complaints that were tossed by federal judges this year. In addition to the Clinton lawsuit, Hannity’s program touted Trump’s ineffectual complaint against New York Attorney General Letitia James seeking to halt her investigation of his business empire, as well as a class action lawsuit he brought against Twitter, Facebook, and Google over their suspensions of his social media accounts. But in each case, he did not follow up when the cases were thrown out.
On Hannity’s program, Trump’s lawyers and family members get softball interviews to lay out the complaints, while the host and his regular legal-issue guests tout their prospects. In some cases, Hannity has even drawn connections between the filings and the conspiracy theories featured on his show.
The “Russiagate” RICO suit
Hannity’s mood was celebratory on his March 24 broadcast as he announced the action Trump’s lawyers had taken just hours earlier.
“Former President Trump filed an explosive lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, Christopher Steele, and others for their role in pushing their years-long Russian conspiracy hoax and lies, laying out evidence of racketeering, a conspiracy to commit injurious falsehood, among other claims,” Hannity said.
“As the lawsuit reads: ‘The defendants maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent Donald J. Trump was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty’ -- which, of course, we expose right here on this program,” he added.
“It's wonderful when you can actually file a suit that is in the most part proven, which is the situation that I find myself in,” Habba said, before praising Hannity for “calling it out from the beginning.”
Indeed, Hannity had spent years helping to concoct the sprawling “Russiagate” conspiracy theories at the heart of Trump’s complaint. But while he was cheering on Trump’s attempt to effectively take Fox monologues before a judge, legal experts were mocking the former president’s complaint and warning that it would go nowhere.
But Hannity claimed the lawsuit “has great merit,” then asked Jarrett for his opinion. Jarrett praised the complaint, saying that Habba and her co-counsel had provided “all the necessary predicates for a racketeering case.”
“This was a criminal enterprise run by Hillary Clinton, approved by Hillary Clinton, the false information disseminated by Hillary Clinton and her cronies,” Jarrett added. “And it's got everything in it, that is necessary to prove the case: obstruction of justice, fraud, conspiracy, theft of trade secrets. The list goes on and on."
“I can't wait for discovery and depositions,” Hannity said at the end of the segment, before asking Habba, “I hope we get to that point. You think we'll get there?”
“We're going to get there,” she replied.
Hannity reconvened the panel on Friday night following the suit’s dismissal. The host introduced the segment by painting the judge’s action as evidence of the “two-tiered system of justice in this country” that is “undermining faith in our most important institutions” and “shredding our Constitution” before turning it over to his guests.
Habba blamed the suit’s failure on drawing “a Clinton judge … who I had asked to recuse himself but insisted that he didn’t need to; he was going to be impartial.”
Jarrett also took issue with the ruling, saying, “It appears to me here that this judge in Florida wanted to be both judge and jury. He wanted to be the trier of the fact here. And he simply states and declares that Trump hasn’t stated a cognizable claim under the law. Well, I think he has!”
The suit to stop New York’s Trump Organization probe
Hannity had already started his Christmas vacation on December 20, 2021, when Trump’s lawyers filed suit against James, seeking to force her to call off the state attorney general probe into the Trump Organization on the purported grounds that she had violated his constitutional rights by bringing the suit due to “political animus.”
But Hannity’s guest host, Tammy Bruce, filled in in his stead that night. While legal experts had warned the effort was far-fetched, Bruce gave Habba a friendly platform to tout the supposedly “pretty clean and cut” case.
“You can't scrutinize somebody,” Habba claimed. “It's called viewpoint discrimination. It's unconstitutional. The country doesn't allow it, and Letitia James has to be stopped.”
A few weeks later, Hannity hosted Trump’s adult son Eric, who brought up the suit.
“It's going to stop because frankly we've assembled the best legal, ethical minds, and we're going to sue her for this abuse of power. And that's the only way we can fight back, to sue her for this abuse of power,” Trump said.
“We don't have equal justice under the law or application of our laws anymore, and I say that sadly. We're now criminalizing political differences. I say that sadly,” Hannity replied.
A federal judge dismissed Trump’s suit in May.
The class action suit to get back on social media
“First tonight, President Trump is fighting back against Big Tech and today, he announced a brand-new class action lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter, and Google,” Hannity said at the top of his July 7, 2021, program.
“Now, with a team of high-powered attorneys, President Trump is now taking aim at what we have discussed at length on this program,” Hannity explained. “That Section 230 protections. Now, it's enjoyed by many Big Tech giants because supposedly they don't involve themselves in editorial. But in reality, they do.”
But Hannity called it a “strong case,” and the people he turns to for discussions of legal issues were on board.
Alan Dershowitz, who served as one of Trump’s impeachment lawyers, called it “the most important First Amendment case of the 21st century,” adding, “There are cases, precedents going both ways and no one can predict what the outcome would be.”
And Jarrett told Hannity that “the argument that Trump makes in his lawsuit is a compelling one” and that it was “a solid argument to be presented in court.”
It wasn’t. A judge dismissed the Twitter lawsuit in May.