President Donald Trump is not immune from a defamation lawsuit brought by former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos, even as his lawyers argued that the case should at least be deferred until the end of his term, a NY appeals court ruled on Thursday.
Trump's legal team can seek to have the appellate court's ruling reviewed by the New York State Supreme Court in Albany.
Donald Trump's efforts to get a defamation lawsuit thrown away have been dismissed by an appellate court in NY, which officially rejected the idea that a sitting president can not be sued in state court.
Zervos' lawyers are hoping to question Trump under oath about whether he defamed her by calling her a liar after she accused him of sexual misconduct.
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.
Judges in the appellate division of the first judicial department agreed with Zervos, saying the Supreme Court's decision "did not encroach upon the exercise of the executive powers of the President" and that the Supremacy Clause was "never meant to deprive a state court of its authority to decide cases and controversies under the state's constitution".
The decision means the president may have to sit for a sworn deposition, which is now scheduled for June. Her resolve to stay quiet changed, she said, after an "Access Hollywood" recording emerged in October 2016 of Trump boasting about groping women.
Trump's lawyers have said that because he is the president he's immune from any prosecution, but the court didn't agree.
President Trump's attorneys have argued his words were opinions and protected speech made during the course of a competitive campaign.
The court disagreed, opening the way for Trump to be deposed about what Zervos says was a sexual assault in his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2007. "Notwithstanding that concern, this Court should not be deterred from holding that a state court can exercise jurisdiction over the President as a defendant in a civil lawsuit". But the NY appeals court said the clause in no way grants Trump such immunity.
Zervos filed her defamation lawsuit three days before Trump's inauguration. That paved the way for Clinton's impeachment the following year.
All five justices found Zervos' defamation claim legally sufficient, without ruling on its merits.
Trump also faced a defamation claim by adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit over a hush money agreement.
That lawsuit was dismissed on March 7.
"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", Renwick wrote.
Zervos appeared on "The Apprentice" in 2006, when Trump was the reality show's host.
Zervos is seeking a retraction, an apology, and compensatory and punitive damages.
"We are very pleased that the First Department has affirmed once again that Defendant "is not above the law, '" Zervos" lawyer, Mariann Wang, said in a statement.
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