Trump Could Testify In 'Apprentice' Defamation Case After Judge's Ruling

A state court judge in Manhattan has ruled that Summer Zervos's defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump for comments he made about her during the campaign can proceed while Trump is in office.

Mr Trump has been accused by several women of misconduct, including after the release during the 2016 presidential campaign of an Access Hollywood recording in which he had spoken in vulgar terms about trying to have sex with women.

Trump argued he should be shielded by the U.S. Constitution because it's too much of a distraction for the nation's chief executive to face civil claims in state court.

The case is Zervos v. Trump, 150522/2017, New York Supreme Court, New York County (New York).

But she claimed Trump kissed her "very aggressively" and grabbed her breast, and became angry when she rebuffed him.

President Donald Trump speaks with the news media before boarding Marine One helicopter from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on March 13, 2018.

The suit unfolding in NY dates back to October 2016, when Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump's reality TV show "The Apprentice", alleged that he groped and kissed her in a 2007 encounter. Her lawsuit sought damages and an apology.

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At least 20 green-clad deputies from the Broward Sheriff's Office formed a tight ring of security around the courtroom. The judge agreed with news outlets, including CBS4, that the video should be released citing strong public interest .

"His statements can be proven true or false, as they pertain to whether [Zervos] made up allegations to pursue her own agenda", the judge said.

Mariann Meier Wang, co-counsel for Zervos with women's rights attorney Gloria Allred, wrote in an email: "The rule of law and sound reason have prevailed today".

Since Zervos appeared on an episode of "The Apprentice", and since she accused Trump of misconduct at a press conference, she may be deemed a public figure - or at least what's known as a limited goal public figure, according to Laurence Winer, an emeritus law professor at Arizona State University. He has said she continued to attempt to contact him and seek employment even after he made the alleged unwanted sexual advances - and only turned against him after he failed to accept an invitation to her restaurant. On Tuesday, Judge Jennifer Schecter sided with Zervos.

Now, Karen McDougal and Summer Zervos.

Trump's attorney, Marc Kasowitz, has argued that Trump's comments were just political rhetoric, and said he will appeal the decision. No dice, said Schecter.

"Nothing in the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution even suggests that the president can not be called to account before a state court for wrongful conduct that bears no relationship to any federal executive responsibility", Schecter found.

Maria Glover, a law professor at Georgetown University, said that the decision will nearly certainly go to appeal. She said she was tricked into signing it, that it was meant to illegally influence the election and because it violates public policy against using threats of legal action to get someone to stay silent on issues of public concern. It said she has been free to respond to press inquiries about her relationship with Trump since 2016 and that the suggestion that American Media silenced her is without merit.

  • Megan Austin