Trump fails to end 'Apprentice' contestant's lawsuit

Summer Zervos' lawsuit against President Donald Trump can proceed, court rules

A NY appellate court ruled Thursday that President Trump must face a defamation lawsuit filed by former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos, one of about a dozen women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct shortly before the 2016 election.

Mr Trump's lawyer Marc Kasowitz said the President would appeal to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, "which we expect will agree with the dissent".

In a defamation lawsuit filed by attorneys for Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice", Judge Dianne Renwick wrote, "the President is still a person, and he is not above the law".

Zervos was among over a dozen women who emerged during Trump's 2016 campaign with allegations of sexual misconduct years earlier.

Mr Trump has denied Ms Zervos's claims and called her case politically motivated.

Zervos, a Republican who appeared on The Apprentice in 2006, accused Trump of kissing her against her will at a 2007 meeting in NY, and later groping her at a Beverly Hills hotel.

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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".

Lawyers for Trump had argued that the decision in Clinton v. Jones didn't settle the question of immunity from suit in state court. Several other women have also accused Trump of improper sexual conduct.

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". They also say his comments were opinions and protected free speech.

Zervos' lawyers say Trump's words were factual falsehoods that subjected her to threats. But the NY appeals court said the clause in no way grants Trump such immunity. It prompted Zervos to then file the suit.

Zervos appeared on "The Apprentice" in 2006, when Trump was the reality show's host. In her lawsuit, she claims that she was defamed after Trump characterized her allegations as lies. A finding in Mr. Trump's favor could have derailed at least two other cases in NY courts, including a wide-ranging probe into the Trump Organization by the state's attorney general. Trump claims that Zervos made numerous attempts to contact him and seek employment even after the alleged sexual harassment occurred.

Mariann Wang, attorney for Zervos, said in a statement, "We are very pleased that the [court] has affirmed once again that Defendant 'is not above the law.' The case has proceeded in the trial court and discovery continues".

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