NY top court rules Trump doesn't have immunity against defamation suit

NY Court of Appeals rejects former President Donald Trump’s argument that he is protected by the Constitution from their legal reach.

Dan Verbin ,

President Trump
President Trump

The New York Court of Appeals rejected former President Donald Trump’s argument that as as a president he is protected by the Constitution from the legal reach of state courts.

The state’s top court on Tuesday paved the way for Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump’s reality show, The Apprentice, to sue Trump for defamation. She alleges that Trump called her a liar for accusing him of sexual assault.

Trump had previously contended, on January 20 shortly before leaving the White House, that as a sitting president he could not be the subject of a lawsuit in state court. However, the Court of Appeals ruled that “the issues presented have become moot” as Trump is now a former president, reported Reuters.

The Zervo defamation case will not proceed in a Manhattan trial courtroom. Her lawyers will have the opportunity to question Trump under oath.

“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,” said Beth Wilkinson, Zervos' lawyer, in an email to Reuters.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Zervos made public accusations that in 2007, several years after her appearance on The Apprentice, she asked Trump for career advice but that he “subjected her to unwanted kissing and groping.”

In January 2017, she launched a lawsuit against Trump based on his labelling similar allegations as “lies” and tweeting a post declaring that Zervos’ allegations were a “hoax.”

E. Jean Carroll, a journalist and advice columnist who made similar accusations against Trump, and has launched a defamation case against the former president, is also reportedly planning to have him give a deposition.