Trump says 'immune' from 'Apprentice'
contestant lawsuit, seeks delay
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[May 23, 2018]
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald
Trump has asked New York state's highest court to delay a defamation
lawsuit by a former contestant on his reality television show "The
Apprentice" who said he sexually harassed her, claiming immunity and
denying the allegations.
Trump is challenging a March 20 ruling by Justice Jennifer Schecter of
State Supreme Court in Manhattan allowing the case to proceed. A
preliminary conference before Schecter is scheduled for June 5, court
In a filing on Monday, Trump told the state's Court of Appeals that the
lawsuit by Summer Zervos should be put on hold because a sitting U.S.
president is immune from being sued in a state court during his term in
the White House.
In another filing late Tuesday night, Trump formally answered the
complaint and again denied the allegations and said he did not have
enough knowledge or information about a particular allegation "to form a
Saying "no one is above the law," Schecter rejected Trump's claim of
immunity over private conduct predating his becoming president.
An intermediate state appeals court on May 17 refused to halt Zervos'
lawsuit, without ruling on its merits.
Trump said that refusal qualified as a "final appealable order"
justifying intervention by the Court of Appeals.
Zervos' lawyer, Mariann Wong, said, the "defendant has lost his effort
to stay this action twice already, and for good reason. No one is above
"We look forward to proving (the) defendant lied when he attacked Ms.
Zervos for telling the truth about his unwanted sexual groping," Wong
said in an email.
[to top of second column]
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, leaves New
York State Supreme Court with attorney Gloria Allred, after a
hearing on the defamation case against U.S. President Donald Trump
in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew
Zervos accused Trump of subjecting her to unwanted kissing and
groping after she sought career advice in 2007.
She came forward during the 2016 presidential campaign, and Trump
called such allegations by women "lies." He also retweeted a post
calling Zervos' claims a "hoax."
Zervos said Trump defamed her by branding her a liar. She is seeking
a retraction or an apology, compensatory damages and punitive
damages in her lawsuit.
In addition to presidential immunity, Trump's lawyer Marc Kasowitz
argued the alleged defamatory statements were also "privileged or
protected by one or more immunities, including, but not limited to,
under the Constitution of the United States," among other defenses.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by
Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Jeffrey
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