Trump’s Lawyers Say Calling Women Liars Over Sexual Harassment Was Politics

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  • Candidate called groping claim by reality contestant a lie
  • President says he can’t be sued for his ‘political opinion’

Trump Rally in Nov. 2016

President Donald Trump’s contention that women who accused him of sexual harassment were lying was just a political opinion expressed during the 2016 campaign, his lawyers argued as they sought to block a suit by a woman who appeared on his reality TV show, “The Apprentice.”

Summer Zervos sued Trump in January, saying he defamed her by denying that he had groped her and calling women who accused him of similar behavior liars. Trump lashed out while on the campaign trail in October against what he called “phony” accusations, saying he was being attacked with lies and slander.

In a filing late Tuesday, Trump’s lawyer called her lawsuit politically motivated. Zervos can’t hold Trump liable for engaging in “political speech in the context of a public debate,” which is protected by the First Amendment, Marc Kasowitz wrote.

“Mr. Trump was merely defending his character and qualifications for office from the false attacks Ms. Zervos leveled against him just a few weeks before the presidential election,” Kasowitz wrote in the filing.

Trump said Zervos tried to contact him and wanted a job even after he made the statements that she now claims were defamatory. She only turned against him after he failed to accept an invitation to her restaurant, Trump said. Her lawyer, high-profile women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

For more on Zervos’s suit, click here

Zervos, who appeared on “The Apprentice” in 2005, went public with her allegations after a recording emerged last fall of Trump bragging that he could grope women and get away with it because he’s famous.

In Tuesday’s filing, Trump also continued to argue that evidence gathering in the case should be put on hold until he leaves office because he has presidential immunity from state lawsuits. Zervos earlier asked to deny that request and sent a subpoena to the Trump campaign for documents concerning “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.”

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

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