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'Apprentice' contestant's Trump defamation suit can proceed

16 March 2019

A NY state appeals court on Thursday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's effort to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by a former contestant on his television show "The Apprentice" or delay it until after he leaves the White House.

Trump's attorney, Marc E. Kasowitz, voiced disagreement with the ruling and said the president plans to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals, "which we expect will agree with the dissent".

Donald Trump's efforts to get a defamation lawsuit thrown away have been dismissed by an appellate court in NY, which officially rejected the idea that a sitting president can not be sued in state court.

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.

The judges cited the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Clinton v. Jones, which ruled that presidents can still be sued while in office for unofficial acts.

The decision, which increases the prospect that Trump could have to sit for sworn questioning in the lawsuit, was not unanimous.

Zervos first came forward about the incidents during the 2016 campaign, after an infamous Access Hollywood tape emerged showing Trump boasting about grabbing women's genitals.

Despite this, Judge Renwick said that the Supremacy Clause is only meant to settle conflicts between state and federal laws, and there's no reason to believe that it says anything about a state court's ability to hear cases involving the president. They also say his comments were opinions and protected free speech.

Zervos' lawyers say Trump's words were falsehoods that subjected her to threats. "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".

Trump also faced a defamation claim by adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit over a hush money agreement.

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

All five justices found Zervos' defamation claim legally sufficient, without ruling on its merits.

Zervos appeared on "The Apprentice" in 2006, when Trump was the reality show's host. In a June 2018 lawsuit, the Attorney General claimed the foundation was operated as a "shell corporation that functioned as a checkbook" for Mr. Trump, his campaign and businesses.

"We are very pleased that the First Department has affirmed once again that Defendant "is not above the law, '" Zervos" lawyer, Mariann Wang, said in a statement. Trump claims that Zervos made numerous attempts to contact him and seek employment even after the alleged sexual harassment occurred.

'Apprentice' contestant's Trump defamation suit can proceed