Trump’s lawyers told a London court on Monday that the former president wants to give evidence proving that the claims made against him were false. The two-day hearing on Trump’s lawsuit against Christopher Steele and his business, Orbis Business Intelligence, began Monday.
Trump’s team is arguing that Steele breached British data protection laws and inflicted “personal and reputational damage and distress” on Trump when he leaked the controversial dossier. The “Steele dossier,” which shook Washington when it was made public days before Trump took office in January 2017, alleged that Trump conspired with Russia to win the 2016 election.
Although the claims were viewed as credible at the time because they came from Steele, many of the allegations were never substantiated.
Trump is seeking to prove that the “shocking and scandalous claims” made in the dossier are false, including the allegations that he paid bribes to Russian officials for a blackmail tape of himself with prostitutes in Moscow.
“President Trump brings this case because he seeks vindication of his legal rights,” his attorney, Hugh Tomlinson told the High Court on Monday. Tomlinson also famously represented King Charles III, successfully arguing that a British tabloid should not be able to publish the diaries of the then-Prince of Wales.
The legal action across the pond comes as Trump faces a string of criminal and civil charges in the U.S. that have come with costly legal fees for the former president, who has denied all of the accusations against him. Campaign finance disclosures show that Trump, the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 election, burned through at least $42.8 million in the first half of the year, with much of the money being used to cover his legal costs.
The British lawsuit also comes months after Special Counsel John Durham finished his criminal inquiry into the FBI‘s Trump-Russia probe earlier this year. Durham, who never charged Steele and whose criminal case against Steele’s primary sub-source ended in acquittal, found that the FBI lacked the evidence to open a full investigation into Trump.
Orbis is asking for Trump’s claims to be thrown out of court, saying that while the dossier was leaked, it was never meant to be published by BuzzFeed and that all copies held by Orbis were destroyed in 2017.
Orbis lawyer Antony White also argued that the lawsuit was “brought for the purpose of harassing Orbis and Mr Steele and pursuing longstanding grievances.”
White told the court on Monday that Trump “has a long history of repeatedly bringing frivolous, meritless and vexatious claims for the purpose of vexing and harassing perceived enemies and others against whom he bears a grudge.”
Newsweek reached out to Orbis via email for comment.
While Tomlinson acknowledged at the beginning of the hearing that the data protection lawsuit is one of many legal cases Trump is involved in, he added that “None of this is relevant to the question of whether the personal data in question is accurate.”
Last year, a federal judge in Florida threw out the lawsuit Trump filed against Steele, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and 25 other people alleging that they conspired to undermine his 2016 campaign by spreading false information about his ties to Russia.
“Under the guise of ‘opposition research,’ ‘data analytics,’ and other political stratagems, the Defendants nefariously sought to sway the public’s trust,” the lawsuit read. “They worked together with a single, self-serving purpose: to vilify Donald J. Trump.”