President Donald Trump’s request to put a former “Apprentice” candidate’s defamation lawsuit on hold while he challenges a ruling denying his bid to throw out the case entirely was rejected by a New York appeals court.
Summer Zervos sued Trump last year claiming he defamed her when he said she lied about her claim that he groped and forcibly kissed her. Zervos, who met with Trump in hopes of securing a job after her Apprentice television show appearance in 2005, is one of more than a dozen women who have come forward accusing him of sexual misconduct.
Trump has called the lawsuit politically motivated, saying Zervos can’t hold him liable for engaging in political speech that’s protected by the First Amendment. He has said she continued to attempt to contact him and seek employment even after he made the alleged unwanted sexual advances — and only turned against him after he failed to accept an invitation to her restaurant.
Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz called the state appeals court’s decision incorrect.
“It is also completely and unjustifiably contrary to the stays the courts uniformly granted when deciding whether a lawsuit against President Clinton could proceed in federal court,” Kasowitz said in an emailed statement. “There is no valid reason in this case — in which plaintiff is seeking merely $3,000 in damages and which plaintiff’s counsel has repeatedly insisted was brought for political purposes — for the court not to grant the requested stay.”
New York State Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter in March rejected Trump’s request to throw out Zervos’s lawsuit, clearing the way for evidence-gathering that could force the president to answer questions under oath.
Zervos has also asked for outtakes from the reality show in which Trump talks about her. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. owns the footage.
The case is Zervos v. Trump, 150522/2017, New York Supreme Court, New York County.