Published: Tue, March 20, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Judge: Defamation case against Trump can proceed

Judge: Defamation case against Trump can proceed

A defamation lawsuit filed against U.S. President Donald Trump by a contestant on his former reality show "The Apprentice" who accused him of sexual harassment can proceed, a ny state judge ruled on Tuesday, raising the possibility of Trump being forced to answer questions about his behavior toward women.

The ruling could subject Trump to extremely broad questions about this case and similar ones, and he might be forced to testify under oath and provide documents, said Naomi Mezey, a professor at Georgetown Law School and an expert on civil procedure.

Trump's lawyer in the case, Marc Kasowitz, did not respond to a request for comment.

"There is absolutely no authority for dismissing or staying a civil action related purely to unofficial conduct because defendant is president", Schecter said.

The ruling Tuesday was blunt in dismissing an argument made by Trump's attorneys that he can not be sued in state court while in office.

"No one is above the law", Justice Jennifer Schecter wrote in her 18-page ruling on Tuesday.

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Additionally, Schecter ruled that the lawsuit could proceed because Zervos has presented a defamation claim that could succeed if she is able to prove that Trump's statements about her are false. But Schecter said rulings that a president must respond to a federal suit also applied to state ones. If that happens, Schecter wrote, Trump's federal responsibilities would be given priority.

Schecter wrote that Trump's comments calling Zervos a liar "cannot be characterized simply as opinion, heated rhetoric or hyperbole". "Even after Clinton v. Jones, decided more than 20 years ago, Congress has not suspended proceedings against the president of the United States and there are no compelling reasons for delaying plaintiff's day in court here".

"Last year, Reuters reported that lawyers for Trump were arguing that a defamation lawsuit against the president brought by Zervos, who has accused Trump of sexual harassment, should be dropped". At a presidential debate, Trump denied ever doing the things he described in the recording, which some of his accusers said prompted them to come forward.

Zervos claims Trump kissed her twice on the lips during a lunch meeting in his New York City office, and on a separate occasion in Beverly Hills, she alleges he kissed her aggressively and touched her breast. The trial court considering the request, the Supreme Court of the State of New York in New York County, heard arguments on the request in December and denied it Tuesday.

A former Playboy model who says she was paid $150,000 to keep quiet about her affair with Trump also filed a lawsuit Tuesday to invalidate the deal so she can speak freely.

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