A former "Apprentice" contestant who is suing President Donald Trump for denying her claims that he kissed and groped her is disputing Trump’s assertion that he is immune from her defamation lawsuit while serving as president
Lawyers for Summer Zervos said in a court filing Monday that Trump is still subject to the suit over the matter, even though he now holds the country’s highest political post .
"Precisely because Defendant’s underlying tortious behavior has nothing to do with his current duties or office, and because it occurred before he took that office, he does not have immunity from suit," Zervos’ attorneys wrote. "No person is above the law in this country and that includes the President of the United States."
Before last year’s election, Zervos publicly claimed that Trump repeatedly kissed her on the mouth, grabbed her breast and thrust his genitals at her in 2006, when she was a contestant on "The Apprentice." Trump flatly denied the claims.
Three days before the inauguration, Zervos filed suit against Trump, contending that his denials were false and damaged her reputation.
In a court filing last month, Trump’s lawyers argued that Trump is immune from the suit because it was filed in a state court — in this instance in New York City.
Trump’s legal team noted that a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that rejected President Bill Clinton’s claims of immunity against a sexual harassment suit brought by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones was explicitly limited to federal lawsuits, leaving open the question of whether presidents are immune from suit in state and local courts.
The issue of whether Trump is or isn’t immune from Zervos’ suit is yet to be joined in court. At the moment, the two sides are jockeying over Trump’s request that the immunity issue be decided before any other legal issue related to the case.
"Given that this fundamental threshold issue on the President’s entitlement to immunity needs to be resolved before this case can proceed, it would be a waste of judicial resources for this Court to entertain briefing on issues which this Court lacks the power to even hear," Trump’s lawyers wrote.