A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has denied a request from President Donald Trump's personal attorneys to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against him by a former "Apprentice" contestant, the latest development in the many legal battles the president has faced since taking office.
Trump had argued that presidents are shielded from civil litigation in state courts under the US Constitution's supremacy clause, but that assertion had never been fully tested by the courts - until now. The trial court considering the request, the Supreme Court of the State of New York in New York County, heard arguments on the request in December and denied it Tuesday.
Zervos remained quiet about the attacks but made a decision to break her silence about the attacks in October 2016, in the weeks leading up to the presidential election, after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape in which Trump could be heard engaging in a lewd discussion about women, including forms of sexual assault.
The President's team had no immediate comment on Tuesday. The two met again that year at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Zervos said Trump subjected her to more unwanted sexual contact in his bungalow. Her lawsuit seeks an apology and at least $2,914.
Even as they considered an appeal, lawyers representing Trump also had to monitor another lawsuit - this one filed in early March in Los Angeles Superior Court by Daniels, who has said Trump sought to silence her shortly before the 2016 election.
Zervos said Trump's denials of her accusations amounted to defamation and that being branded a "liar" caused diners to stay away from her restaurant.
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Marc Kasowitz of Kasowitz Benson Torres, who is representing Trump in the case, said in December at oral arguments for the motion to dismiss that Trump's statements on the issue amounted to overheated campaign rhetoric-and thus can not be construed as defamatory-and that none of the statements explicitly named Zervos.
The ruling to push forward with Zervos' case "is an important victory", Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, an organization fighting sexism, said in a statement.
"This case seems to be turning on the very question that the Supreme Court left open in Clinton versus Jones, which is whether their same decision would apply in a state court case", Mezey said.
Zervos said that after appearing on Trump's show in 2006 she asked him for a job.
Also on Tuesday, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump, filed suit in California to release her from a legal agreement requiring her to stay silent.
"The issue of whether a president can have rights and liabilities adjudicated in state court is likely to reach the highest court in NY, in Albany", she said.
Former porn star Stormy Daniels said she was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about her relationship with Trump.