Apprentice contestant can sue Trump: judge

Mar 21, 2018, 07:58
Apprentice contestant can sue Trump: judge

A NY judge on Tuesday rejected President Trump's motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, a contestant on The Apprentice in 2005.

Mr Trump has been accused by several women of misconduct, including after the release during the 2016 presidential campaign of an Access Hollywood recording in which he had spoken in vulgar terms about trying to have sex with women.

A NY state judge on Tuesday denied a bid by Trump to toss a defamation lawsuit by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on NBC's "The Apprentice", raising the prospect that he might have to answer questions about his behaviour in court.

"Nothing in the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution even suggests that the president can not be called to account before a state court for wrongful conduct that bears no relationship to any federal executive responsibility", writes Schecter.

The case is Zervos v. Trump, 150522/2017, New York Supreme Court, New York County (New York).

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Zervos remained quiet about the attacks but made a decision to break her silence about the attacks in October 2016, in the weeks leading up to the presidential election, after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape in which Trump could be heard engaging in a lewd discussion about women, including forms of sexual assault.

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

Judge Jennifer Schecter wrote that "no one is above the law" in siding with Summer Zervos, who sued Trump after he dismissed as "fabricated" and "made-up" her claims of misconduct at a Beverly Hills, California, hotel in 2007.

Mariann Meier Wang, co-counsel for Zervos with women's rights attorney Gloria Allred, wrote in an email: "The rule of law and sound reason have prevailed today".

"No one is above the law", Schecter wrote in an 18-page decision.

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Trump's attorney Marc Kasowitz had asked that the case be thrown out or at least delayed until he finished serving his term as president. "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". It said she has been free to respond to press inquiries about her relationship with Trump since 2016 and that the suggestion that American Media silenced her is without merit.

But Schecter said that Trump's statements could be proven true or false and that, because his statements were delivered on Twitter-a "preferred means of communication often used by defendant", the judge noted-and in speeches, the statements cannot be characterized simply as heated rhetoric or hyperbole. It remains unclear, however, what information the documents contain and if they would show that Trump committed the acts of which Zervos and other women accused him.

The judge cites Paula Jones' case against Bill Clinton as precedent.

Former porn star Stormy Daniels said she was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about her relationship with Trump. Attorneys for Trump pushed back on multiple fronts, arguing that the suit was "politically motivated" and was built around "allegations of events that never occurred".

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