'Apprentice' contestant's defamation suit against Trump cleared to proceed

Summer Zervos Donald Trump

The ruling stems from a defamation lawsuit filed by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, who has accused Trump of making unwanted sexual advances toward her in 2007.

The Appellate Division's First Judicial Department of the New York Supreme Court ruled against Trump in a 3-2 decision Thursday.

In a defamation lawsuit filed by attorneys for Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice", Judge Dianne Renwick wrote, "the President is still a person, and he is not above the law".

Ms Zervos first came forward in October 2016, the month before Mr Trump was elected, after an Access Hollywood recording showed the then-Republican candidate speaking in vulgar terms about women.

A NY appeals court has ruled that President Donald Trump isn't immune from a defamation lawsuit filed by a former "Apprentice" contestant who accused him of unwanted kissing and groping.

The appeals court cited the Paula Jones case, a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that refused to delay Jones' civil harassment suit against then-President Bill Clinton.

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.

Despite this, Judge Renwick said that the Supremacy Clause is only meant to settle conflicts between state and federal laws, and there's no reason to believe that it says anything about a state court's ability to hear cases involving the president.

More news: Suspected white supremacist charged with murder after New Zealand mosque shootings

President Trump's attorneys have argued his words were opinions and protected speech made during the course of a competitive campaign.

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.

President Trump had argued that the case should be postponed until he is out of office because of immunity that he has as a president. That paved the way for Clinton's impeachment the following year.

Zervos appeared on "The Apprentice" in 2006, when Trump was the reality show's host.

"More than 20 years later, the current sitting President attempts to shield himself from consequences for his alleged unofficial misconduct by relying upon the constitutional protection of the Presidency", the decision reads.

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.

Her lawyer, Mariann Wang, said in an emailed statements she was pleased the judges had ruled that Trump was "not above the law".

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