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Court Rejects Trump's Request to Dismiss Defamation Lawsuit From Former Apprentice Contestant

Court Rejects Trump's Request to Dismiss Defamation Lawsuit From Former Apprentice Contestant

A defamation lawsuit filed against U.S. President Donald Trump by a contestant on his former reality show "The Apprentice" who accused him of sexual harassment can proceed, a NY state judge ruled on Tuesday, raising the possibility of Trump being forced to answer questions about his behavior toward women.

The day that Zervos came forward with her allegations, Trump issued a public statement in which he said that he had never met Zervos in a hotel room, and also denied allegations of sexual misconduct against him at a rally in North Carolina.

Citing a US Supreme Court ruling that allowed Paula Jones' lawsuit against then-President Bill Clinton for "unofficial acts" to proceed in federal court while he was in office, Schecter wrote that the rules should be no different for similar cases brought in state court.

Adds the judge, "Nothing in the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution even suggests that the President can not be called to account for wrongful conduct that bears no relationship to any federal executive responsibility".

Zervos was a contestant on "The Apprentice" in 2005 and, after she was dispatched from the show with Trump's signature "You're Fired" line, continued to seek out Trump for advice and job opportunities, court papers state.

But she claimed Trump kissed her "very aggressively" and grabbed her breast, and became angry when she rebuffed him.

Lawyers for Trump had asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, arguing, in part, that he is too busy running the country to be subject to a civil lawsuit like this. They have also alleged the statements made by Zervos were politically motivated.

Zervos said Trump's denials amounted to defamation and that being branded a "liar" caused diners to stay away from her restaurant in California.

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At least a dozen women aired complaints about past sexual misconduct by Trump before the election, although Zervos is the only one to bring court action.

Marc Kasowitz, who is representing Trump in the Zervos suit, and Gloria Allred, an attorney for Zervos, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on the ruling. He also had argued Ms. Zervos was not held up to the level of ridicule or contempt necessary to prove defamation.

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

"More than 20 women have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault and harassment".

Maria Glover, a law professor at Georgetown University, said that the decision will nearly certainly go to appeal.

But Schecter said that Trump's statements could be proven true or false and that, because his statements were delivered on Twitter-a "preferred means of communication often used by defendant", the judge noted-and in speeches, the statements cannot be characterized simply as heated rhetoric or hyperbole. It said she has been free to respond to press inquiries about her relationship with Trump since 2016 and that the suggestion that American Media silenced her is without merit.

Former porn star Stormy Daniels said she was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about her relationship with Trump.

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