Donald Trump may have threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and its “rocket man” leader Kim Jong Un at the U.N. today but the ex-Apprentice host himself was hit hard by a rebuke in a defamation lawsuit he is trying to get tossed.
Calling such a dismissal of Summer Zervos’ case “baseless” and telling Trump he is “not above the law,” attorney Gloria Allred said in an opposition filing that “Defendant’s attacks were defamatory because his statements were factual, provably false, and fundamentally debased Ms. Zervos’s Reputation” (read it here).
Today’s exhibit-heavy accompanied opposition comes in response to a late night motion to dismiss Zervos’ January 17 filed defamation suit from Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz on July 7. “We look forward to President Trump’s reply and the hearing that we expect the Court will schedule for oral arguments in this case,” Allred told Deadline this afternoon.
An unsuccessful participant in the 2006 season of the now-canceled The Apprentice, Zervos first claimed last October during the last weeks of the White House campaign that Trump attempted to kiss her during private meetings in both NY and LA a decade ago. Around the same time that the explosive Access Hollywood recordings from 2005 of Trump bragging about accosting women were going public, Zervos also alleged in a meeting with the self described at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2007 that the author of The Art of the Deal grabbed her breasts and “thrust his genitals” at her.
In the middle of what many incorrectly assumed was a losing race against Hillary Clinton, then GOP candidate Trump went on the offensive against Zervos after she made her claims public in late October 2016. Facing accusations of inappropriate behavior from a number of women, Trump also sought to devalue Zervos’ claims by outlining how she continued to pursue a job with him. Among other things, Trump said that Zervos contacted him on April 14, 2016 “asking that I visit her restaurant in California.”
“His brutalizing of her a second time — this time falsely condemning her to the world as a liar for having the temerity to reveal his earlier unwanted sexual groping of her body — directly caused serious injury,” the opposition in New York Supreme Court from Allred and lawyers at NYC’s Cuit Hecker Wang LLP notes. “Ms. Zervos and her business were repeatedly threatened with violence and destruction,” declaring that Trump has no right nor legal basis by which to use his office or politics as a way of avoiding this suit.
The literally 11th hour dismissal action from Trump lawyer Kasowitz earlier this summer postulated that Trump calling Zervos a “liar,” terming her story “phony” and over a dozen other remarks were “nothing more than heated campaign rhetoric designed to persuade the public audience that Mr. Trump should be elected president irrespective of what the media and his opponents had claimed over his 18-month campaign.”
“The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution prevents this State Court from hearing this action, whatever its merit or lack thereof, against a sitting President,” added Kasowitz, who is also one of the lawyers for AMC in their long battle with ex-The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and CAA over profits from the blockbuster series. “The action therefore should be dismissed without prejudice to Ms. Zervos refiling after the President leaves office, or stayed until such time.”
Accused that she and Zervos’ “true motivation is to use this action for political purposes as a pretext to obtain broad discovery that they hoped could be used in impeachment hearings to distract from the President’s agenda,” Allred hit back on July 10. “Our motive is simple,” the L.A.-based lawyer declared. “We believe that truth matters.” That was the last Allred had to say publically on the case until today.
In January of this year, with media savvy Allred at her side, Zervos conceded to the cameras that she had contacted Trump years ago seeking a job but was disappointed in the salary she was offered. Three days before Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Zervos formally filed the defamation complaint after the former reality TV host’s public remarks about her and her harassment allegations during the 2016 campaign. In her defamation suit, the 2006 Apprentice participant called the now POTUS a “liar and misogynist,” among other things.
Zervos’ suit got some strong legal backing earlier today from a trio of law professors who back in 1997 argued that Bill Clinton wasn’t immune from Paula Jones’ civil suit.
“No one in our nation is above the law, not even the President,” said Prof. Stephen Burbank, Prof. Richard Parker and Prof. Lucas Powe Jr of University of Pennsylvania Law School, Harvard Law School and University of Texas, respectively in an amicus brief submitted Tuesday (read it here). “The Supreme Court has accordingly held that the Constitution does not immunize the President against civil suits based on conduct that is wholly unrelated to the President’s execution of his office,” they added.
And now Donald Trump has to respond to a case that really doesn’t look like it’s going away, or the way he desires.