Former Apprentice cast member Summer Zervos brought a defamation case against President Donald Trump, and Tuesday his team of lawyers are expected to attempt to have it dropped. Should they fail, the president may have to testify regarding sexual harassment allegations by more than a dozen women - allegations he has been able to avoid to this point in his presidency.
The suit was filed by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” who claimed last year that Trump “very aggressively” kissed her, groped her breasts, and began “thrusting” his genitals at her in a 2007 meeting at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Her claim is that Trump damaged her reputation when he called her a liar.
It is expected that Trump's attorneys will argue that a sitting president cannot be sued in state court, and so the lawsuit should be delayed or thrown out all together.
Part of their reasoning is that a trial could distract Trump from his official business as president. The experience of another US president – Bill Clinton – shows that this argument may not hold up. Clinton’s experience also shows how, if Trump lies under oath, he could be impeached.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1997, in Clinton v. Jones, that sitting presidents are not in fact immune from civil-law litigation over something that happened before they took office. The ruling specifically pertained to federal lawsuits. Trump’s lawyers say this case is different because it was filed in a state court.
Zervos was one of thirteen women who came forward last year to accuse Trump of sexual impropriety over the span of more than 30 years.
Trump has denied Zervos’ claims, saying he “vaguely” remembers her and that he never met her at a hotel. He later called Zervos and his other accusers “liars” during several campaign appearances and on Twitter.