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21 March 2018, 07:55 | Colleen Roy
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A NY judge on Tuesday denied an attempt by lawyers for President Donald Trump to dismiss a defamation case against a former "Apprentice" contestant who claims Trump groped her a decade ago.
Zervos alleged in the lawsuit that she and her business were damaged after Trump's derogatory statements about her in the wake of her sexual misconduct allegations against the president.
"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", she wrote. As such, the decision could be reviewed by a NY appeals court before being tackled by the 2nd Circuit and eventually perhaps the Supreme Court.
Zervos remained quiet about the attacks but chose to break her silence about the attacks in October 2016, in the weeks leading up to the presidential election, after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape in which Trump could be heard engaging in a lewd discussion about women, including forms of sexual assault.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The two met again that year at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Zervos said Trump subjected her to more unwanted sexual contact in his bungalow.
"A reader or listener, cognizant that (Trump) knows exactly what transpired, could reasonably believe what defendant's statements convey: that (Zervos) is contemptible because she "fabricated" events for personal gain", Schecter wrote.
It's unclear whether Trump would have to appear at any of the proceedings, but Zervos' lawyers have said they would depose him.
Zervos, a former contestant on the NBC show, has accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in 2007.
The ruling came the same day that Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, filed a lawsuit on the other side of the country against American Media, owner of the National Inquirer, seeking to be released from a contract she said paid her $150,000 to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Trump. He has cited the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Jones's lawsuit against Clinton, where the justices ruled her federal case could proceed.
At least a dozen women aired complaints about past sexual misconduct by Trump before the election, although Zervos is the only one to bring court action.
"No one is above the law", Schecter wrote in an 18-page decision.
After the suit was filed, Trump lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that a president has immunity from such lawsuits in state courts.
Naomi Mezey, a law professor at Georgetown University, told Bloomberg that the decision is likely to be repealed and may even go to the Supreme Court. No dice, said Schecter.
Trump has repeatedly said that all of the women who accused him of touching them inappropriately were lying - a sentiment his White House reiterated as questions resurfaced about the allegations. Despite her ruling Tuesday, both sides can make an appeal, meaning that the fight over the merits of the lawsuit could continue for months if not longer.
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