Donald Trump Certain To Face Grilling In Ex-‘Apprentice’ Contestant’s Lawsuit

16 March, 2019, 21:44 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Summer Zervos' lawsuit against President Donald Trump can proceed, court rules

A New York State appeals court on Thursday delivered some bad news to President Donald Trump, perhaps telegraphing a larger message to Congress and the Dept. of Justice.

Lawyers for Trump had argued that the "Supremacy Clause" of the US Constitution "immunized the President from being sued in state court while in office".

Trump's attorneys had argued that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution shielded Trump from the claim, but Justice Dianne Renwick wrote that the clause was "never meant to deprive a state court of its authority to decide cases and controversies under the state's constitution".

But the split decision likely foreshadows an appeal, perhaps to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals.

Lawyers in another case against Mr. Trump may also received a boost.

Zervos sued in 2017, saying Mr. Trump had hurt her reputation, harmed her business and caused threats to be made against her.

"The case has proceeded in the trial court and discovery continues", Mariann Wang, Zervos's attorney, said in a statement.

The Zervos case has already brought forth dozens of recorded depositions with Trump Organization figures as senior as Allen Weisselberg, the company's CFO, who had been at Mr. Trump's side for decades.


Defendant's reading of the Supremacy Clause - that it bars a state court from exercising jurisdiction over him because he is the "ultimate repository of the Executive Branch's powers and is required by the Constitution to be "always in function" -- finds no support in the constitutional text or case law. Last year, the NY attorney general sued Trump, alleging "persistently illegal conduct" at the charity he has run for 31 years.

The appeals court called Ms Zervos's case "materially indistinguishable" from former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones's lawsuit accusing then-president Bill Clinton of sexual harassment. In her lawsuit, she claims that she was defamed after Trump characterized her allegations as lies.

The main crux of Renwick's opinion centered on what she said was a poor reading of the Constitution's Supremacy Clause by Trump's legal team.

The Zervos case is not the only defamation lawsuit Trump has faced as president.

The lawsuit - first filed under her predecessor, Barbara Underwood - asks for Trump to pay millions in penalties and restitution, and to be barred from serving on the board of any NY charity for 10 years.

In contrast to Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, Zervos and her lawyers have taken a low-key approach, a step that may help them negate claims that the suit is politically motivated.

One issue: Last June, another judge had ruled Mr. Trump could be deposed.

Zervos was among over a dozen women who came forward during Trump's 2016 campaign with allegations of sexual misconduct years earlier.

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