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Trump Accuser's Lawsuit Against President Can Proceed

NY appeals court says he's not immune from 'Apprentice' contestant Summer Zervos' suit
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 14, 2019 1:30 PM CDT
In this Oct. 18, 2018 file photo, Summer Zervos leaves New York state appellate court in New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, FILE)

(Newser) – A New York appeals court ruled Thursday that President Trump isn't immune from a defamation lawsuit filed by a former Apprentice contestant who accused him of unwanted kissing and groping, the AP reports. A panel of judges on the Supreme Court Appellate Division said in their ruling, in a case brought by Summer Zervos, that the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution doesn't require trials in state court to be delayed until the president is out of office. Citing a US Supreme Court ruling two decades ago in a case involving alleged sexual misconduct by President Bill Clinton, a majority of judges on the panel said presidents can be sued in state courts over things they did that aren't related to their official duties. The decision, which increases the prospect that Trump could have to sit for sworn questioning in the lawsuit, was not unanimous; two of five justices dissented.

"The current sitting President attempts to shield himself from consequences for his alleged unofficial misconduct by relying upon the constitutional protection of the Presidency," the judges said in an opinion written by Justice Dianne T. Renwick. "We reject defendant President Trump's argument that the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution prevents a New York State court—and every other state court in the country—from exercising its authority under its state constitution. Instead, we find that the Supremacy Clause was never intended to deprive a state court of its authority to decide cases and controversies under the state's constitution." Trump's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said he planned to respond to the ruling Thursday afternoon. Zervos appeared on The Apprentice in 2006, when Trump was the reality show's host. She says he made the unwanted advances the next year during get-togethers she hoped would yield career advice. (Trump was also found to be not immune to prosecution in this case.)


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