The decision on whether the lawsuit against President Trump, filed by a former contestant of The Apprentice who accuses him of groping and defaming her, is to move forward is expected soon.
A hearing was recently held before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter, in which lawyers for Summer Zervos argued that she had faced several threats after Trump accused her of making up her claims in order to help Hillary Clinton win in the 2016 presidential election.
Appearing for Zervos attorney Mariann Meier Wang stated that Trump must not be allowed to “attack a woman who has factually described his sexual groping” and remain unpunished.
Trump Just Defending Himself
Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, argued that that Trump had not said anything wrong as he was defending himself. He further contended that the case cannot be tried in the state court and should be either dismissed or be delayed
He cited the supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution, and said Trump’s motion was not about putting any one person above the rule of law but about “protecting the ability of the president to do his constitutionally-mandated job.”
Schecter has reserved orders on the dismissal motion, stating that she would study the presented arguments as well as the legal briefs before deciding on the motion .
Zervos The First To Sue Trump
Zervos is among the dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, but she is the first to sue him
According to the lawsuit filed by her this January, Trump “ambushed” her multiple times in 2007, kissing her and touching inappropriately including pressing against her. These allegations are similar to those made by other affected women
Zervos also accused Trump of defaming her during the campaign rallies ahead of the election and via Twitter. Trump has dismissed all the allegations as false.
In the hearing, Kasowitz contended that Trump’s defamatory statements regarding Zervos were “constitutionally protected remarks” made to defend himself.
Trump Using Clinton Case Arguments
Trump’s legal team is relying on legal arguments made by former President Bill Clinton’s lawyers during a federal court lawsuit in 1994 over an alleged sexual assault.
Paula Jones accused Clinton of attacking her in 1991 when she was a state employee in Arkansas and Clinton the governor for the state. The US Supreme Court permitted the case to proceed in the federal court which finally ended after four years with an $850,000 settlement.
No Definitive Precedent Available
Both legal teams in the Zervos case have pointed out that there was no definitive ruling available if a sitting U.S. president can be sued in a state court with respect to allegations that don’t involve White House responsibilities.
Kasowitz referred to a footnote available in the Supreme Court’s decision on the Clinton-Jones case to bolster for his positon that the case must be either dismissed or at least postponed until Trump’s presidential term ends.
The footnote states that the direct control of a state court over the president “ may implicate concerns that are quite different” from the Jones case. Schecter however noted that the footnote actually “leaves the question open”
Wang pointed out that there was no better court to hear a defamation case against a “born and bred New Yorker,” referring to Trump.
Wang further added that legal team representing Zervos would be accommodative of Trump’s White House schedule while arranging sworn depositions and will even hold them during his regular golf visits to his Mar-a-Lago Florida estate.