Trump plans to argue that as president he is immune from all civil litigation filed in state court until he leaves office, a lawyer for the president wrote in a legal filing in New York this week in a case related to allegations that he sexually harassed a former contestant on the reality show “The Apprentice.”
Summer Zervos is suing Trump in New York, arguing that Trump defamed her when he denied her allegations during the presidential campaign, calling her and other women who made similar claims “liars.” He also called her a “phony” and labeled her allegation a “hoax.” Zervos, who appeared on the television show in 2006, alleges that Trump groped and aggressively kissed her against her will during a 2007 encounter at a Los Angeles hotel, after Zervos sought a job with the Trump Organization. Trump has denied Zervos’s allegations and said her story was a “total fabrication.”
The Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that litigation against the president over conduct unrelated to his public office can proceed while he is in office. That ruling came as former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones sued President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment. However, the justices said courts should show deference in scheduling and other matters to the heavy burdens of the presidency.
One of Jones’s lawyers who successfully argued Clinton was not immune from such lawsuits was George T. Conway III, the husband to Trump aide Kellyanne Conway. Trump has nominated George Conway to lead the Justice Department’s civil division.
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