A very bad week for Donald Trump may be about to give way to a much worse one as of next Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the New York Supreme Court will decide if a defamation case brought by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos will go forward. If it does, Trump might just be forced to testify.
The defamation action filed by Zervos began with an incident in 2007. Zervos alleges Trump “very aggressively” kissed her, groped her breasts, and began “thrusting” his genitals at her during a meeting between the two at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Trump strongly denied the claims of Zervos and more than a dozen other women, calling them liars. Zervos says Trump damaged her reputation when he branded her a liar.
What are the chances the president might have to testify in the Zervos action, which could open the door for him to be compelled to testify in other civil actions? According to Georgetown University’s law school professor Susan Low Bloch, Trump may want to start making plans for hours in court:
“The precedent is not on Trump’s side.”
The precedent Professor Bloch is citing? As Business Insider reports:
“The Supreme Court ruled in 1997, in Clinton v. Jones, that sitting presidents are not in fact immune from civil-law litigation over something that happened before they took office. The ruling specifically pertained to federal lawsuits. Trump’s lawyers say this case is different because it was filed in a state court.”
Specifically, lawyers for Trump have argued:
“All of the statements occurred on political forums — a campaign website, on Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, in a presidential debate, and at campaign rallies — where the listeners expect to hear public debate, taken as political opinion rather than a defamatory statement.”
Zervos’ lawyer, Gloria Allred, said she believes Trump should have to defend his remarks in a court of law:
“We believe that President Trump should be accountable for his statements. No one enjoys a license to defame based on power, wealth or privilege.”