Judge: Defamation case against Trump can proceed

Judge: Defamation case against Trump can proceed

A NY judge on Tuesday denied an attempt by lawyers for President Donald Trump to dismiss a defamation case against a former "Apprentice" contestant who claims Trump groped her a decade ago.

Trump's lawyers said that as president, he is immune from civil litigation, an argument that did not convince NY judge Jennifer Schecter.

"No one is above the law", the judge wrote.

This ruling may complicate matters regarding the president's effort to dismiss other allegations against him, including a reported $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, who performed under the stage name Stormy Daniels.

The model, Karen McDougal, is suing American Media, the owner of the National Enquirer, which paid her the money in exchange for her silence.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Summer Zervos, is a former contestant on Trump's show "The Apprentice". McDougal is scheduled to give an interview Thursday to CNN's Anderson Cooper, while "60 Minutes" is scheduled to air an interview with Daniels on Sunday.

"Nothing in the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution even suggests that the president can not be called to account before a state court for wrongful conduct that bears no relationship to any executive responsibility", Schechter said.

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Zervos said the first encounter, two unwanted kisses, occurred at Trump's NY office.

Trump's lawyer in the case, Marc Kasowitz, said an appeal is planned.

McDougal is asking the court to declare the agreement null and void. She cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed Paula Jones to bring a sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton.

Trump's attorneys argued that the president can not be sued in state court and also said the comments he made were political opinion and, as a result, "squarely protected by the First Amendment". "We are grateful for the opportunity to prove that the Defendant falsely branded Ms. Zervos a phony for telling the truth about his unwanted sexual groping".

She has accused the president of aggressively kissing and grabbing her at a hotel where they met to discuss a potential job with the Trump Organization a year after she appeared on "The Apprentice". In that case, the court held that Clinton did not have immunity in federal lawsuits over private acts. The $130,000 hush agreement was meant to prevent her from speaking out about an alleged affair that began, Daniels said, at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006. At a presidential debate, Trump denied ever doing the things he described in the recording, which some of his accusers said prompted them to come forward.

Trump took to Twitter after the October 2016 press conference to deny the allegations, calling them "made up events THAT NEVER HAPPENED", "100% fabricated and made-up charges", and "made up stories and lies".


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