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Trump fails again in effort to duck 'Apprentice' defamation suit

Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Zervos was one of more than a dozen women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct in the weeks before the November 2016 election.

She says she arrived at the Beverly Hills Hotel for dinner with Trump one night in 2007 and was escorted to his bungalow, where he aggressively kissed her open-mouthed and placed a hand on her breast.

After she pushed him away and expressed her disinterest, she says, he pressed his genitals against her and tried to kiss her again.

In October 2016, a week after the release of an "Access Hollywood" tape of Trump saying women let him grab them by the crotch because he was famous, Zervos, a Republican, said at a news conference: "You do not have the right to treat women as sexual objects just because you are a star."

Trump denied meeting her at the hotel or greeting her inappropriately. He repeatedly called her a liar. She sued him just before his January 2017 inauguration.

Thursday's court ruling cited the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of President Bill Clinton's attempt to block the federal lawsuit that Paula Jones filed against him for sexual harassment.

The New York court disagreed with Trump's argument that the Jones ruling did not apply to a state court, saying "though he is tasked with significant responsibilities, the president is still a person, and he is not above the law."

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The president is immune from lawsuits for actions taken in his official capacity, the court acknowledged, but not for his private conduct before taking office.

Trump's lawyers also argued that it would violate the U.S. Constitution if a state court were allowed to hold a president in contempt. The New York justices dismissed the scenario as hypothetical.

State courts "are fully aware that they should not compel the president to take acts or refrain from taking acts in his official capacity or otherwise prevent him from executing the responsibilities of the presidency," Renwick wrote.

(c)2019 Los Angeles Times

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