Summer Zervos' Defamation Lawsuit Against Trump Will Soon Be Heard By A Judge
A New York Supreme Court judge will reportedly begin hearing oral arguments early next week in a defamation lawsuit brought against President Donald Trump early this year by Summer Zervos, a woman who alleged Trump sexually harassed her 10 years ago. According to Zervos' attorney, Gloria Allred, a judge will hear oral arguments related to a motion for dismissal filed by Trump's lawyers this coming Tuesday.
According to court filings, Marc Kasowitz, Trump's private attorney, filed a motion to dismiss or delay Zervos' defamation lawsuit under the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause in March. Kasowitz argued the case could potentially serve to "distract the President from his public duties to the detriment of not only the President and his office but also the nation." Kasowitz also characterized Zervos' lawsuit as "politically motivated."
According to the Huffington Post, Allred has countered Kasowitz's argument for dismissal by citing a unanimous decision from the Supreme Court in 1997 regarding a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against former President Bill Clinton by Paula Jones. In that decision, the Supreme Court ruled a president was not guaranteed immunity from civil litigation under the Constitution's supremacy clause.
Zervos, a former contestant on Trump's reality-TV series The Apprentice, was one of 16 women who accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault in the course of the 2016 election. Trump has repeatedly denied these allegations calling them lies. In January, Zervos announced she was suing Trump for defamation after he'd repeatedly characterized her allegations as a "hoax" and an attempt to gain fame.
"Trump knew that his false, disparaging statements would be heard and read by people around the world, and that these women, including Summer Zervos, would be subjected to threats of violence, economic harm, and reputational damage," Zervos' lawsuit states.
In a press conference held Oct. 14, 2016, Zervos claimed Trump had kissed her on the mouth, touched her breast, and thrust his genitals at her during a meeting they'd had at the Beverly Hills Hotel sometime in 2007. She said that although she'd been "incredibly embarrassed" by his sexual advances she had thought his interest was genuine. However, Zervos said the leaked Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump can be heard boasting about using his celebrity status to grope women, gave her a new perspective on the encounter.
Trump has denied Zervos' allegation, saying he only "vaguely" remembered her but "never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately." In October, when it was revealed Zervos' legal team had subpoenaed the Trump campaign for all documents related to Zervos and "any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately," Trump once again denied — and dismissed — the allegations. "All I can say is it's totally fake news. It's just fake. It's fake. It's made-up stuff, and it's disgraceful, what happens, but that happens in the — that happens in the world of politics," Trump told reporters Oct. 16 while fielding questions in the White House Rose Garden.
Trump's lawyers have also argued that his comments regarding Zervos and her allegations against him do not constitute defamation as he was merely exercising "his First Amendment right to defend himself during his campaign through quintessential political forums." Moreover, they allege in court documents that the statements Zervos' lawsuit is based on "are not defamatory as a matter of law and most of which do not even reference her."
Zervos' defamation suit is likely not the only lawsuit Trump faces. An analysis conducted by USA Today in October 2016 found there were at least 75 open lawsuits involving Trump or his businesses. And in April, Politico reported Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings showed the Trump campaign had paid nearly $4 million in "legal consulting" and "legal fees," some of which the news outlet found to actually be "intentionally obscured" settlement payouts.
However, Zervos' defamation lawsuit could be wrapped up as early as next week should the judge hearing oral arguments Tuesday decide to grant Trump's legal team's motion to dismiss the case.