Trump claims immunity from Apprentice contestant's lawsuit

President Trump’s private attorneys asserted in court this week that he should be immune from a defamation lawsuit filed against him because of his presidential duties.Summer Zervos, a former contestant from The Apprentice, sued Trump in New York on Jan. 17, just days before the inauguration. She came forward in October and accused Trump of kissing and groping her in a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2007. Trump denied the accusation, including a series of tweets calling the sexual misconduct allegations "100% fabricated and made-up charges,” “totally false” and “totally made up nonsense.Zervos’ attorney, Gloria Allred, demanded a retraction, to no avail. So, she sued. Zervos’ lawsuit claims the alleged defamation was “detrimental to Ms. Zervos’s reputation, honor and dignity.Trump’s attorneys said in this week's court filing that the supremacy clause of the U.S. constitution should bar the lawsuit since it could “distract a President from his public duties to the detriment of not only the President and his office but also the Nation,” attorney Marc Kasowitz included in his filing, from the 1997 Clinton v. Jones Supreme Court ruling. Legal scholars predicted a collision of private lawsuits from Trump’s life before the presidency once he took office. A USA TODAY investigation found around 75 such lawsuits still pending as Trump began his presidency. The Zervos case will likely rely on standards set in the case involving President Clinton, which clearly says presidents are not immune from private litigation while in office.However, Trump’s attorneys say the Clinton case left unresolved some questions, such as dismissing a case based on its likelihood to distract the presidency before it begins. Kasowitz said he would soon file a motion to dismiss the case that asks for an apology and $2,914.In a statement Tuesday, Gloria Allred said the president "does not enjoy legal immunity from our defamation lawsuit." "The United States Supreme Court address this legal immunity issue in Clinton v. Jones and determined unanimously that no man is above the law and that includes the president of United States," Allred said. "We look forward to arguing this issue in court." “Because of the Supreme Court case related to Bill Clinton, there’s no automatic shield for the president from civil action,” Samuel Issacharoff, a law professor at New York University told USA TODAY in November. “If he were president and called to testify and hostilities break out in the Middle East a court would probably postpone — but of course it’s a major dislocation to be going through these civil trials while he’s running an administration.” Clinton wasn’t the first president to be challenged with a suit over his life before the presidency. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy was sued in California for his role in a traffic incident at the 1960 Democratic National Convention. Kennedy eventually settled for $17,500 after a judge ruled he could be sued like any other citizen. Trump and his companies have sued or been sued more than 4,000 times over the last four decades, according to a USA TODAY review of records in federal and state courts coast to coast.


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