'Apprentice' contestant's defamation suit against Trump cleared to proceed

Donald Trump and Summer Zervos

A NY court has said that any sitting U.S. president is still able to be tried in a state court, after Donald Trump sought to delay a defamation trial arising from a lawsuit filed by a former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos. On Thursday an appellate court in NY ruled that Trump was not immune from being sued in state court and that a defamation lawsuit against him could move forward.

Ms Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, is bringing a defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump.

While the statute of limitations on such misconduct charges has long expired, Trump's caustic comments during the 2016 campaign that Zervos' claims were "total fiction" and "all false stuff" basically reset the clock.

A NY appeals court has ruled that President Donald Trump isn't immune from a defamation lawsuit filed by a former "Apprentice" contestant who accused him of unwanted kissing and groping.

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.

Even with more appeals possibly all the way to the Supreme Court, Trump now looks certain to have to sit for a grilling from Zervos' attorney Mariann Wang by the end of June, I hear.

She came forward after the "Access Hollywood" recording which showed Trump boasting about groping women.

Trump's lawyers have said that because he is the president he's immune from any prosecution, but the court didn't agree.

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They also say his remarks were opinions that he had a free-speech right to express in the course of a heated campaign.

Zervos sued in 2017, saying Mr. Trump had hurt her reputation, harmed her business and caused threats to be made against her. In short, she was able to file a suit against Trump because he publicly called her a liar.

Despite suggesting that he embodies the executive branch and has significant responsibilities, "the President is still a person, and he is not above the law", the court said.

The judge then added that the Supreme Court said in reference to the Jones case,"The Supreme Court also considered that '[i] f Congress deems it appropriate to afford the President stronger protection, it may respond with appropriate legislation'".

All five justices found Zervos' defamation claim legally sufficient, without ruling on its merits. That paved the way for Clinton's impeachment the following year.

She says she didn't go public with her allegations for nearly a decade because she admired Trump as a businessman and thought he had had just a couple of episodes of bad behavior with her.

That lawsuit was dismissed on March 7. The case has proceeded in the trial court and discovery continues.

Zervos appeared on "The Apprentice" in 2006, when Trump was the reality show's host.

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