Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Trump fails to end 'Apprentice' contestant's defamation lawsuit

Summer Zervos' lawsuit against President Donald Trump can proceed, court rules New York appellate court allows Summer Zervos defamation suit against Trump to proceed
Steven Clarke | 15 March, 2019, 04:38

"We are very pleased that the First Department has affirmed once again that Defendant is not above the law", Zervos' attorney Mariann Wang said in a statement.

A former contestant on "The Apprentice" who accused President Donald Trump of unwanted kissing and groping can move forward with her defamation lawsuit against him, a state appeals court ruled Thursday, raising the prospect that a sitting president could be called for sworn questioning.

Lawyers for Trump had argued that the "Supremacy Clause" of the US Constitution "immunized the President from being sued in state court while in office".

"Despite the suggestion in his brief that he is the "embodi [ment of] the Executive Branch and though he is tasked with significant responsibilities, the President is still a person, and he is not above the law", the appeals court panel wrote".

Trump is represented in the case by his longtime personal lawyers at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP.

"We reject defendant President Trump's argument that the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution prevents a New York State court - and every other state court in the country - from exercising its authority under its state constitution". The candidate denied the claims, calling the women "liars". Several other women have also accused Trump of improper sexual conduct.

From left to right: Summer Zervos, Orange County woman and former "Apprentice" contestant, arrives to New York County Criminal Court on December 5, 2017, in New York.

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Mr Trump also republished on Twitter a post calling Zervos' accusations a "hoax".

The panel's decision cites the decades-old Paula Jones suit against Bill Clinton, noting that the US Supreme Court failed to conclude then that simply being president shielded Clinton from civil litigation.

In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court let Jones' case go forward.

That paved the way for Mr Clinton's impeachment the following year.

One of them, Justice Angela Mazzarelli, said the "all-consuming nature of the presidency creates a constitutional barrier" against Ms Zervos's lawsuit.

Zervos sued in 2017, saying Mr. Trump had hurt her reputation, harmed her business and caused threats to be made against her. That lawsuit was dismissed on March 7.

Judges in the appellate division of the first judicial department agreed with Zervos, saying the Supreme Court's decision "did not encroach upon the exercise of the executive powers of the President" and that the Supremacy Clause was "never meant to deprive a state court of its authority to decide cases and controversies under the state's constitution".

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