June 24, 2018

President Trump Must Face Accusations of 'Apprentice' Contestant

21 March 2018, 07:56 | Simon Arnold

Modal Trigger Donald Trump and Summer Zervos AP Getty Images

Trump setback in accuser’s defamation case is first of its kind

A NY judge on Tuesday denied an attempt by lawyers for President Donald Trump to dismiss a defamation case against a former "Apprentice" contestant who claims Trump groped her a decade ago.

The decision by Justice Jennifer Schecter of State Supreme Court in Manhattan paves the way for lawyers to seek depositions from several women who accused Mr. Trump of sexual harassment before he was elected and to subpoena Trump campaign records related to his female accusers.

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos in state court in Manhattan in January 2017.

Trump argued he should be shielded by the U.S. Constitution because it's too much of a distraction for the nation's chief executive to face civil claims in state court.

"For the very same reasons articulated in Clinton v Jones, a stay for the duration of the Trump presidency must be denied", she added.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The suit unfolding in NY dates back to October 2016, when Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump's reality TV show "The Apprentice", alleged that he groped and kissed her in a 2007 encounter.

On Tuesday, Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model, filed suit to be freed from a deal she said she made to remain silent about an alleged affair with Trump.

Trump took to Twitter after the October 2016 press conference to deny the allegations, calling them "made up events THAT NEVER HAPPENED", "100% fabricated and made-up charges", and "made up stories and lies".

Zervos met Trump when she became a contestant on "The Apprentice" in 2005.

Summer Zervos, right, arrives at the New York County Criminal Court on December 5, 2017.

Porn star Stormy Daniels is among the many women who have claimed to have sexual relations with Trump.

They've argued that Trump can't be held responsible for the remarks he made because they were said during a heated presidential campaign, and that those comments amount to political speech protected under the First Amendment. "We are grateful for the opportunity to prove that the Defendant falsely branded Ms. Zervos a phony for telling the truth about his unwanted sexual groping".

"No one is above the law", the judge wrote in her ruling.

Justice Schecter rejected Mr. Trump's argument that a state court has no jurisdiction over a sitting president.

Naomi Mezey, a law professor at Georgetown University, told Bloomberg that the decision is likely to be repealed and may even go to the Supreme Court.

In her ruling, Schecter also dismissed a request that the case be stayed for the duration of Trump's time in office, saying that such "a lengthy and categorical stay is not justified" just because a president can be called away to attend to a crisis.

"The issue of whether a president can have rights and liabilities adjudicated in state court is likely to reach the highest court in NY, in Albany", she said.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued the president on March 6, stating Trump never signed an agreement for her to keep quiet about an "intimate" relationship between them.

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