A defamation suit currently unwinding in New York state court could raise anew a slew of sexual harassment complaints made against Donald Trump. On its face, the suit brought by Summer Zervos accuses Trump only of defamation because he dismissed her allegations of sexual misconduct against him as lies. Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, accused Trump during the campaign of groping her and aggressively kissing her during a private meeting in 2007, reports the Washington Post. She was one of several women to come forward with such accusations, and Trump denied them all. A few days before his inauguration, Zervos filed her defamation suit with the help of celeb attorney Gloria Allred. As the New York Times explains, the implications go far beyond the defamation charges.
Lawyers are seeking the Trump campaign's records pertaining to the allegations, and if the case is allowed to proceed, the women could be deposed. That would not only rehash the allegations in the charged atmosphere of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it could require Trump himself to be deposed. "If he lied under oath, it would be grounds for Congress to impeach him, as happened with [Bill] Clinton," per the Times. Trump's legal team argued again this week that the lawsuit should be dismissed, or at least postponed until Trump is out of office. His lawyers made the case that Trump's dismissal of the accusations as lies amounted to protected political rhetoric on his part, coming as they did in the heat of the campaign, reports BuzzFeed. The judge is expected to rule on the motion to dismiss before the end of the year.