Former ‘Apprentice’ Contestant Demands Evidence in Trump Lawsuit

  • Summer Zervos sued after hot mic of Trump bragging about abuse
  • Trump has denied allegations and claims Zervos is lying

A former “Apprentice” contestant who last year accused Donald Trump of making multiple unwanted sexual advances before he became president asked a New York judge to deny a request to indefinitely delay gathering evidence in the case.

Summer Zervos sued Trump for defamation in January after he said she was lying about “phony" abuse. Trump argues the case shouldn’t proceed because he has presidential immunity from state lawsuits. On March 27th, he asked for a hold on gathering evidence until the judge had ruled on presidential immunity and a motion to dismiss -- and any subsequent appeals were resolved.

Summer Zervos

Photographer: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

"There plainly is no basis for such a request, which is at best premature," Mariann Wang, Zervos’s lawyer, said Monday in a filing in New York state court in Manhattan. "This attempt to create de facto immunity before that issue is even litigated should be denied."

Trump, who is famously litigious, has resolved many of his outstanding cases in recent months. He agreed in November to pay $25 million to settle fraud claims over his defunct Trump University. In January, he defeated a lawsuit by a female political strategist who accused him of inciting a “virtual mob” to bully her into silence after she questioned his fitness for office on television. In the last week, he settled two suits against acclaimed chefs who ditched restaurant projects in his new Washington hotel to protest his derogatory comments about Mexicans. 

Immunity First

Trump, whose treatment of women was a central issue in the presidential campaign, has vehemently denied the abuse allegations by Zervos and other women, suggesting they were fabricated in a bid for fame and to help his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s lawyer in the case, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

Zervos, who appeared on "The Apprentice" in 2005, went public with her allegations after a hot mic recording emerged last fall of Trump bragging that he could grope women and get away with it because he’s famous. Trump later denied engaging in sexual misconduct.

Central to Trump’s defense is his suggestion that a state-court lawsuit can’t proceed while he’s in office, based on the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. He cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Paula Jones’s assault lawsuit against former President Bill Clinton, in which the justices ruled the federal case could proceed. But the nation’s highest court explicitly stated that it wasn’t deciding if lawsuits in state court could proceed against a president. Trump’s legal team argues they cannot.

Wang disagreed, saying he didn’t have immunity because the alleged misconduct occurred before Trump took office. “No person is above the law in this country, including the President of the United States,” she said.

The case is Zervos v. Trump, 150522/2017, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.