Donald Trump wants a defamation lawsuit over sexual assault allegations — brought against him by former The Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos — to be dropped. Why? Because he’s the president of the United States.
Zervos, who’s one of over a dozen women to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct, appeared on Season 5 of The Apprentice in 2006, when Trump was still the executive producer and host. Zervos was “fired” from the show in Week 1 for having a so-called “terrible attitude.”
Zervos held a news conference with her lawyer Gloria Allred in October of last year, saying Trump tried to get her to lie down on a bed with him in a hotel room in 2007 after he’d extended a dinner invitation to her — but took her to a private room instead.
“He then asked me to sit next to him. I complied. He then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast,” said Zervos.
Trump’s team released a statement shortly afterwards, calling the allegations “false and ridiculous.” In her suit, Zervos claims that Trump’s denials and response constitute defamation. The former Apprentice contestant and restaurateur officially filed her lawsuit in January.
On Friday, Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz submitted a court filing formally requesting a judge stop the lawsuit. (You can read it in its entirety below.)
In the filing, Kasowitz calls Zervos’ allegations “a witch hunt” and questions her motives. He also points a finger at Allred, who has represented other high-profile female clients like Melanie Brown of The Spice Girls, Hunter Tylo, Kelly Fisher, Rachel Uchitel and Canadian trans woman Jenna Talackova, many of whom also filed sex-assault lawsuits.
“Ms. Zervos and her counsel have openly conceded ― indeed, bragged ― that their true motivation is to use this action for political purposes as a pretext to obtain broad discovery that they hoped could be used in impeachment hearings to distract from the President’s agenda,” it reads.
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The filing goes on to say that Trump’s response to Zervos’ sexual assault allegations has not subjected her to “hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy,” and thus the defamation claim is unfounded.
Trump’s legal team cites 1997 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Clinton v. Jones (that would be former president Bill Clinton and former state employee Paula Jones, who filed a sex harassment lawsuit against the then-president), saying that a sitting president should be immune from state court lawsuits. The suit against Clinton was allowed to proceed at the time, but it was held in federal court, not at the state level.
This isn’t the first time Trump’s lawyers have tried this tack; in March, they said that a long line of U.S. Supreme Court cases requires courts to show deference to the president and his schedule.
Zervos has filed for a paltry $3,000 in damages but says she’ll drop the case outright if Trump acknowledges his actions and admits the truth.