Court lets ex-Apprentice contestant’s defamation suit against Trump proceed

Donald Trump
Donald Trump (PA Wire)
17:40pm, Tue 30 Mar 2021
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Donald Trump could face questioning under oath about a former Apprentice contestant’s sexual assault allegations against him, following a ruling from New York’s highest court.

Evidence-gathering has been on hold in Summer Zervos’s defamation lawsuit since Mr Trump asked the high court last year to declare the that the presidency protected him from being sued in state courts.

In a one-sentence ruling, the Court of Appeals threw out Mr Trump’s appeal as moot now that he is out of the White House.

Lawyers for the woman, Summer Zervos, had asked the high court to dismiss the appeal and return her defamation suit to a trial court for both sides to continue pre-trial evidence-seeking that could eventually enable Ms Zervos’s lawyers to quiz Mr Trump under oath, and his to question her.

Summer Zervos (AP)

Deadlines for such questioning, known as a deposition, had been set for last year before Mr Trump appealed to the high court.

“Now a private citizen, the defendant has no further excuse to delay justice for Ms Zervos, and we are eager to get back to the trial court and prove her claims,” lawyers Beth Wilkinson and Moira Penza said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ms Zervos is suing Mr Trump for calling her a liar after she went public during his 2016 campaign with allegations that he had subjected her to unwanted kissing and groping twice in 2007.

She had appeared on his reality show The Apprentice in 2006 and said she was looking only for career advice when she contacted him afterwards.

She sued after he retweeted a message calling her claims “a hoax” and described women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment as “liars” trying to damage his presidential chances.

Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz has said the former president’s statements were true and protected by free speech rights and that Ms Zervos’s claims are meritless.

She is seeking a retraction, an apology and damages.

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