Judge rules defamation case against Donald Trump may proceed

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the White House in Washington DC

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the White House in Washington DC

The decision by Justice Jennifer Schecter of the NY state court in Manhattan in favour of California restaurateur Summer Zervos, a former contestant on NBC's The Apprentice, raises the prospect that Trump might have to answer embarrassing questions in court about his behaviour towards women.

The ruling Tuesday was blunt in dismissing an argument made by Trump's attorneys that he can not be sued in state court while in office.

In January 2017, Zervos filed a defamation suit against Trump, after he made inflammatory comments on the campaign trail about Zervos and other women who accused him of misconduct.

"No one is above the law", Justice Schecter said.

Now, Karen McDougal and Summer Zervos.

Mariann Wang of Cuti Hecker Wang, who represents Zervos, said of the judge's decision that "rule of law and sound reason have prevailed today". "It is settled that the President of the United States has no immunity and is "subject to the laws" for purely private acts".

A Fed Ex truck is held from entering the scene of a blast at a Fed Ex facility in Schertz Texas
A Fed Ex truck is held from entering the scene of a blast at a Fed Ex facility in Schertz Texas

In an interview with Fox News earlier this year, diGenova asserted that "there was a brazen plot" by officials in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DOJ "to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn't win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime". He has cited the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Jones's lawsuit against Clinton, where the justices ruled her federal case could proceed. He also had argued Ms. Zervos was not held up to the level of ridicule or contempt necessary to prove defamation. But Schecter said rulings that a president must respond to a federal suit also applied to state ones.

During his campaign, Trump repeatedly said at rallies and on Twitter that all accusations made by women after the Access Hollywood recording became public were "lies". Trump is separately embroiled in a scandal involving a $130,000 payment to an adult film actress - Stephanie Clifford, who performed under the name Stormy Daniels - who alleges he's attempting to prevent her from discussing a sexual relationship she had with him in 2006.

But it's that same case that Zervos' attorney, Gloria Allred, argued supported the idea that Trump couldn't pause the litigation.

President Trump speaks with the media on March 13, 2018. Then at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007, Zervos said, Trump kissed her "aggressively", fondled one of her breasts and thrust his genitals at her.

The suit was filed in a state court in Manhattan past year by Summer Zervos, a contender on "The Apprentice" in 2005 who alleges Trump ambushed her on more than one occasion starting in 2007, kissing her on the mouth, touching her breast and pressing his genitals against her.

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