“President Trump should have to defend what he said in a trial in a court of law, rather than just expecting everyone to accept his denials as gospel,” lawyer Gloria Allred said today in a sharp response to the ex-reality host’s near-midnight move last week to toss former The Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos’ defamation lawsuit against him.
“In his brief, President Trump questions my motives and those of Ms. Zervos,” Allred told Deadline on Monday of allegations in lawyer Marc Kasowitz’s literally eleventh-hour Friday filing in New York State court. The longtime Trump attorney attested that the suit, initially filed January 17, was intended to aid a potential impeachment. “Our motive is simple,” Allred clarified of where the publicly declared Hillary Clinton supporter and The Apprentice Season 5 hopeful stand. “We believe that truth matters.” Allred also noted that the Supreme Court has determined that “no man is above the law, including the President of the United States.”
“We believe that President Trump should be accountable for his statements,” the civil rights attorney asserts of then-candidate Trump calling Zervos a “liar” last year. “No one enjoys a license to defame based on power, wealth or privilege.” (See today’s full Allred statement below.)
Kasowitz said in his exhibit-heavy motion filed Friday that Zervos’ action “should be dismissed in its entirety.” The NY-based lawyer did not respond to request for comment from Deadline on Monday.
“First, and fundamentally, 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,” Kasowitz wrote, reaching back to and shifting the jurisdiction of Paula Jones’ action against the then-President Bill Clinton back in the 1990s. “The action therefore should be dismissed without prejudice to Ms. Zervos refilling after the President leaves office, or stayed until such time,” the motion added.
Amid another week beginning with the Trump administration stuck in the ditch of the ever-deepening Russia scandal, this is the latest swing in what could be true summer battle of well-matched media masters. Allred says she will file a response in the defamation case on August 11 in New York Supreme Court.
Three days before Trump was sworn in, Zervos formally filed the complaint after the former Apprentice host’s public remarks about her and her harassment allegations during the campaign. Trump also revealed that Zervos sought to pursue a job with his organization and even reached out to him in April 2016 “asking that I visit her restaurant in California.”
A participant in the 2006 season of the now-canceled The Apprentice, Zervos first claimed during the election that Trump attempted to kiss her during private meetings in both NY and LA in 2007. Around the same time that the seemingly damning Access Hollywood recordings from 2005 of Trump bragging about accosting women were going public, Zervos also alleged in that get-together meeting with Trump at the Beverly Hills Hotel a decade ago, the real estate mogul grabbed her breasts and “thrust his genitals” at her.
With Allred at her side in front of the cameras and microphones in January, Zervos admitted she contacted Trump more than a decade ago seeking a job but was disappointed in the salary she was offered.
Here is all of Allred’s statement today:
In the dark of night last Friday, President Trump filed his motion seeking to dismiss the lawsuit that Summer Zervos filed against him in which she alleged that the President defamed her when he was a candidate running for the office of President.
In his brief he argues that the allegations against him are “false”, and that the litigation is “meritless”, but rather than have a jury decide those issues President Trump urges the Court to dismiss the case thereby preventing the jury from making these determinations.
President Trump should have to defend what he said in a trial in a Court of law, rather than just expecting everyone to accept his denials as gospel.
In our legal system it is not up to Mr. Trump to determine what is true. Rather, it is for a jury to decide.
President Trump also argues that he enjoys legal immunity from being sued because he is President.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in the case of Jones v. Clinton that no man is above the law, including the President of the United States (for unofficial acts).
Ms. Zervos’s lawsuit alleges that Mr. Trump’s defamation of her was an unofficial act which occurred prior to his being elected President.
Mr. Trump attempts to distinguish Jones vs. Clinton by arguing that it was wrongly decided, and also that the decision should not apply to him, because Ms. Zervos filed her case in state court.
We believe that President Trump should be accountable for his statements. No one enjoys a license to defame based on power, wealth or privilege.
In his brief President Trump questions my motives and those of Ms. Zervos. Our motive is simple. We believe that truth matters.
We will file our legal response to President Trump’s motion on August 11,2017. We look forward to a hearing on this case.