Larry Klayman

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Larry Klayman
Born Larry Elliot Klayman
(1951-07-20) July 20, 1951 (age 65)
Education Harriton High School Rosemont, Pennsylvania (1969)[2][3]
Alma mater Duke University (1974)
Emory University Law School (1977)[1]
Occupation Attorney, activist
Political party Republican

Larry Elliot Klayman (born July 20, 1951) is a politically conservative American lawyer[4] and former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor who has been called a "Clinton nemesis"[5][6] for his dozens of lawsuits against the Bill Clinton administration in the 1990s.[7][8][9] The founder of Judicial Watch[10][11] and the government watchdog group Freedom Watch,[12] he has brought legal action against former Vice President Dick Cheney,[13] President Barack Obama,[14][15] OPEC,[16] Iran, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg,[17][18] and the National Security Agency (NSA). In the last case, a federal judge ruled in December 2013 that the NSA's bulk collection of telephony metadata violated the Fourth Amendment.[19][20]

Education and career[edit]

Larry Klayman graduated with honors from Duke University with a B.A. in Political Science and French Literature. He received his J.D. from Emory University Law School.

Klayman founded Judicial Watch in 1994. During his tenure, Judicial Watch filed several lawsuits against Bill Clinton and his presidential administration. In response, Bill Clinton needled Klayman during a presidential press conference in 1999.[21]

Klayman left Judicial Watch to pursue political office. In 2004, Klayman ran for the United States Senate from Florida but lost in the United States Republican Party primary, finishing seventh out of eight candidates.[22] After his run for the U.S. Senate, Klayman formed Freedom Watch.[23] He says the name originated from an NBC episode of The West Wing in which he was caricatured as Harry Claypool.[24]

Klayman is the author of two books and writes a weekly column for the conservative news website WorldNetDaily. He was born to Jewish parents, and identifies himself as "both a Jew and a Christian".[25][26]

Hardball tactics[edit]

Klayman's opponents denounce his relentless style of litigation, where he seems "undeterred by either criticism or setbacks," and claim he uses the court system as a "weapon" against his political enemies. Klayman's approach to litigation is not simply to win cases, but to unearth documents normally hidden from the public, as well as to garner media attention. He has been credited with changing the tone of partisan investigations in Washington D.C..[27] In the 90s, Klayman deposed several White House officials, probing James Carville about his television habits, Paul Begala about his priest, and George Stephanopoulos about his traffic tickets. Carville publicly described Klayman as a "little twerp" and Klayman responded by questioning him about the statement during a deposition.[9][28]

Sanctions and discipline imposed[edit]

Following Klayman's behavior in a 1992 trial in California federal court, Judge William Keller barred Klayman from his courtroom for life. Five years later, in a separate case in New York, Klayman's behavior led then district judge Denny Chin to issue a lifetime ban on the attorney practicing law before him.[29] Klayman has written about his dealings with Keller and Chin, claiming that Keller acted "erratic" and was "obviously drunk" at the bench and that Chin was "belligerent and disrespectful." [30]

In 2007, Klayman received a $25,000 retainer from a Daytona Beach woman facing criminal charges and she accused him of not providing legal services in return.[31] The Florida Bar Association mediated the matter and Klayman agreed to pay off a small portion within 90 days, but after the deadline lapsed he was reprimanded by the association.[32][33]

In 2014, Klayman agreed to be publicly censured by the D.C. Bar. Klayman represented three individuals who had sued Judicial Watch, his former employer and client, but he failed to obtain Judicial Watch's consent to waive his conflict of interest. Klayman maintained that the bar "recognized there was no evidence of dishonesty or personal gain."[34]

An October 2016 opinion by a federal appellate court noted twelve cases "in which Klayman’s ability to practice law in an ethical and orderly manner was called into question."[35]


The Clintons[edit]

Through Judicial Watch, Klayman filed around 18 lawsuits against the Clinton presidential administration, alleging ethical misconduct and criminal activity.[17][36] In one case, a federal judge ruled that Clinton violated the Privacy Act when he released personal letters[37] between him and a female White House volunteer. The woman had appeared on national television accusing him of making improper sexual advances, and Clinton claimed he released the letters to discredit her.[38] The judge determined this was an act of criminal intent, but that ruling was called "inappropriate" by the appellate court.[39][40][41][42]

In the Clinton-era fundraising scandal known as Chinagate, Judicial Watch was awarded nearly a million dollars in attorney fees against the U.S. Department of Commerce.[27]

Klayman represented Gennifer Flowers, who claimed to be one of Bill Clinton's mistresses, in a defamation suit against Hillary Clinton.[43] Klayman also represented Dolly Kyle, another woman who claimed to be a mistress of Bill Clinton, in her unsuccessful lawsuit against him.[44]

Klayman represented Jared Paul Stern in his unsuccessful defamation lawsuit against the Clintons, Ronald Burkle, and the Daily News.[45]

In 2012, Klayman represented Freedom Watch in its FOIA request to obtain various federal agencies' documents. During the course of litigation, Klayman sought access to Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server,[46] but the courts denied his request.[47]

In March 2015, Klayman filed a racketeering lawsuit against Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton Foundation, alleging Hillary Clinton sold access to U.S. government officials in return for donations to the Clinton Foundation.[48] In August 2015, a federal court dismissed Klayman's suit.[49]

In the wake of the 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers, Klayman filed a lawsuit against Obama, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, and some of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, alleging they had incited a "race war" that led to the shooting.[50] Klayman amended the complaint to include a Dallas police officer as a plaintiff; and Hillary Clinton and George Soros as defendants.[51] In November 2016, Klayman filed a similar suit on behalf of the father of one of the slain officers.[52]

In August 2016, Klayman, on behalf of family members of two people killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack, sued Hillary Clinton for wrongful death and defamation.[53]

Legal Actions Filed by Klayman[edit]

Klayman's mother[edit]

In 1998, Klayman sued his mother for $50,000, seeking reimbursement for medical care provided to his maternal grandmother. After Klayman's brother told Newsweek magazine of the lawsuit, Klayman alleged that the Clinton White House was responsible for the magazine acquiring the information.[29] In 2013, Klayman defended his actions in an interview with ABC News, and said it was "essentially a case against my stepfather" and that he named his mother "because legally she was next of kin."[54]


In April 2011, Klayman filed a lawsuit against Facebook, accusing the social media website of "negligence" for not responding quickly enough to calls to take down an anti-Israel "Third Intifada" page and demanding $1 billion in damages. Facebook representatives responded that the suit was "without merit."[55] In December 2012, the district court dismissed the complaint, ruling that Facebook was immune from suit under the Communications Decency Act.[56]

Phoenix New Times and City Pages[edit]

In 2012, the City Pages and Phoenix New Times newspapers reported on a custody dispute between Klayman and his ex-wife. In response, Klayman sued them for defamation. In 2015, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, finding Klayman failed to prove that the newspapers published the articles with actual malice.[57] In May 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal.[58]

Judicial Watch[edit]

In 2012, a Judicial Watch employee falsely told Orly Taitz that Klayman had been convicted of not paying child support. In reality, Klayman had been indicted of failing to pay child support, but the charges had been dismissed. Taitz published the Judicial Watch employee's comment on her website. Klayman sued Judicial Watch for defamation, and in 2014, a federal jury awarded Klayman $156,000 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages.[59]

National Security Agency[edit]

Main article: Klayman v. Obama

In June 2013, Klayman sued the Obama administration over the collection of phone records by the National Security Agency (NSA). A federal judge agreed with Klayman that the surveillance program was likely unconstitutional, but stayed an injunction pending an appeal by the United States government.[60] The ACLU and Senator Rand Paul had filed similar cases, but Klayman's was the only one to gain a favorable court ruling.[27] In August 2015, however, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the injunction, ruling that Klayman had failed to show that his own records had been collected.[61] In November 2015, the district court enjoined the NSA from collecting data about Klayman's client, a California lawyer who had recently been added to the lawsuit, but the D.C. Circuit court stayed enforcement of the injunction.[62]


In October 2014, Klayman sued the Obama administration, claiming that it secretly allowed the Ebola virus to enter the United States so it could be used against Americans of the "Caucasian race and Jewish-Christian religion."[63] In February 2015, Klayman voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.


In July 2015, Klayman sued Obama and members of Congress to block the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 and the proposed agreement regarding Iran's use of nuclear power.[64] In September 2015, the federal court dismissed the lawsuit, stating that Klayman lacked standing.[65]

Gun Control[edit]

In January 2016, Klayman sued Obama, the U.S. Attorney General, and the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to block Obama's recent executive actions on gun control.[66] In June 2016, the federal district court dismissed the lawsuit.

Republican National Committee[edit]

In April 2016, Klayman sued the Republican National Committee, alleging its leaders conspired to deprive Donald Trump from being awarded the delegates he had won in the 2016 Republican Party primary for Florida.[67] In June 2016, the state court dismissed the lawsuit.

Barack Obama[edit]

In the wake of 2017 United States Donald Trump airport protests, Klayman sued Obama, alleging his comments elsewhere incited a protestor at the Los Angeles International Airport.[68]

Cable News Network[edit]

In February 2017, Klayman filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission and the United States Secret Service, alleging that the Cable News Network had incited the "assassination of the elected President and Vice President, and the Speaker of the House".[69]

Lawsuits Representing Others[edit]

José Basulto[edit]

Klayman represented José Basulto[70] of the Cuban exile organization Brothers to the Rescue and won a $1.7 million judgment against Fidel Castro in 2005. The Cuban government shot down and killed four of Basulto's colleagues (and nearly himself) as they flew over international waters.[71][72]

Ground Zero mosque[edit]

In 2010, Klayman represented Vincent Forras in a lawsuit against Feisal Abdul Rauf to prevent the building of the so-called "Ground Zero mosque." In the motion to dismiss, Rauf's attorney called Klayman an "infamous publicity hound" and wrote that Forras "trades in his well deserved laurels for fifteen minutes of fame as a nationally recognized bigot." Klayman and Forras sought sanctions, but the court denied that request and dismissed the suit.[73][74] Klayman and Forras then sued Rauf and his attorney for defamation, and that suit was also dismissed.[75][76]

Esquire magazine[edit]

In 2011, Klayman represented Joseph Farah in a defamation lawsuit against Esquire magazine. A federal district judge dismissed the suit, and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the dismissal.[77][78][79]

Rachel Maddow[edit]

In July 2011, Klayman represented Bradlee Dean in a defamation suit against Rachel Maddow. The suit was unsuccessful and Dean was ordered to pay defendants' legal fees, totaling nearly $25,000.[80][81]

National Security Agency[edit]

In August 2015, Klayman represented five former government employees in a lawsuit against the NSA, the Department of Justice, and employees of those agencies. The plaintiffs sought over $100 million dollars in damages for alleged retaliation for complaints about the Trailblazer Project.[82] In February 2016, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.


In November 2014, Klayman filed a lawsuit on behalf of Joe Arpaio, alleging that the Obama administration's actions regarding federal immigration policy were not authorized by Congress.[83] In December 2014, a federal court dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that Arpaio lacked standing to challenge the policy changes.[84] The dismissal was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case. [85][86]

Dennis Montgomery[edit]

In February 2015, Klayman filed a defamation lawsuit on behalf of Dennis L. Montgomery against James Risen, the author of Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. The lawsuit alleged that Risen falsely described Montgomery as "the maestro behind what many current and former U.S. officials...believe was one of the most elaborate and dangerous hoaxes in American history."[87] In July 2016, a federal court dismissed Montgomery's lawsuit.[88]

In May 2015, Klayman also represented Montgomery in his request to intervene in the contempt proceedings against Joe Arpaio in a lawsuit that initially alleged Maricopa County had engaged in impermissible racial profiling, but later revealed that Arpaio had allegedly hired Montgomery to investigate the DOJ.[89] On Montgomery's behalf, Klayman asked the judge presiding over Arpaio's lawsuit to recuse himself; however, the recusal motion was denied in the district court and on appeal.[90]


In January 2016, on behalf of five individuals who suffered physical harm after taking Levaquin, Klayman sued the drug's manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, and Hamburg's husband, alleging they colluded to enrich themselves by not warning the public about the drug's dangerousness.[91]

Cliven Bundy[edit]

In March 2016, Klayman applied in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada for permission to represent Cliven Bundy in the criminal case stemming from the 2014 Bundy standoff.[92] Chief Judge Gloria Navarro denied Klayman's request, citing his failure to fully disclose the extent of his prior professional discipline.[93] In October, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the trial court's decision to deny Klayman's request.[94]

Challenges to presidential eligibility[edit]


In 2012, Klayman filed on behalf of a Florida resident an unsuccessful challenge to Barack Obama's placement on the primary ballot and claimed the president is not a natural-born citizen as required by the Constitution.[95]

In November 2012, Klayman represented the presidential candidate for the Constitution Party and a member of the Alabama Republican party, who alleged the Alabama Secretary of State had a duty to investigate Obama's eligibility. The trial court dismissed the complaint, and the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal. Chief Justice Roy Moore and another justice dissented, arguing the Secretary of State did have the authority to conduct such an investigation. Two other justices wrote concurring opinions that supported the dismissal and addressed the dissenting opinions.[96]

In 2013, a citizen grand jury formed by Klayman "indicted" Obama and others of various crimes (including involuntary manslaughter), "convicted" Obama of fraud, and alleged the president forged his birth certificate in order to pass eligibility requirements.[97][98]

On October 13, 2013, during the US government shutdown, Klayman declared at a conservative rally in Washington, D.C. that "This president is not a president of We the People; he’s a president of his people", urged the crowd to begin a "second American non-violent Revolution", and demanded that President Obama "put the Quran down ... [and] figuratively come out with his hands up."[12][99] Weeks later, Klayman sponsored a "Reclaim America" rally in Lafayette Square across from the White House, calling for the president's removal.[100][101] Klayman stated that if Obama did not resign, conservative activists would meet to establish a "shadow government".[102] Klayman had encouraged "millions to occupy Washington D.C.," but reported attendance was between 130 and 200.[101]

In October 2014, Klayman requested that the Department of Homeland Security initiate deportation proceedings against Obama.[103]

Ted Cruz[edit]

Following Ted Cruz's announcement that he would seek the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential election, Klayman stated that Cruz was not eligible.[104]


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External links[edit]