President Donald Trump's lawyers argued Tuesday that a defamation suit filed by a former contestant on his reality show "The Apprentice" that accused him ofshould at least be blocked while He's in the office because he's too busy and important.
in 2006 and sued the Republican after he dismissed as "fabricated and fabricated charges" his claims that he made unwanted sexual contact with her at a hotel in Beverly Hills, California in 2007. His lawsuit requested an apology and at least $ 2,914.
Out of court on Tuesday, Zervos thanked his lawyers and said in a low voice: "Justice prevails."
Trump did not attend.
Trump's lawyers argued that the United States Constitution immunizes him from being sued in state court while he is president and said the case should be delayed until his term ends. The lawyers said their position is backed by a long list of Supreme Court cases that require courts to show respect for the president and his calendar.
No president has tried to delay a lawsuit in a state court while he was in office, the lawyers and the judge said.
But in 1997, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that an incumbent president was not immune from civil litigation for something that happened before taking office and was not related to the office. The ruling came after Paula Jones filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton, the husband of Trump's main opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton. The case was dismissed by a judge.
However, a footnote in that ruling should be interpreted as saying that state courts do not have the same jurisdiction over the president, argued Marc Kasowitz, Trump's lawyer.
Judge Jennifer Schecter asked if the note is specific in saying that state courts have no jurisdiction, and Kasowitz said no. But Trump's job is twenty-four hours, and you can not expect him to spend time in court while he's in office, Kasowitz.
Zervos' lawyers argued that delaying the case would mean that the witnesses would forget it and the documents could be destroyed. Attorney Mariann Wang said the court clearly has the power to hear the case.
Wang said that the Zervos team would be flexible with the president's schedule and would agree to record the statements if necessary. She said Trump "does not do his job 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
"We can take a deposition to Mar-a-Lago in the middle of it by going to play golf," he said, a jab in Trump's frequent visits to his Florida resort.
The judge said he would issue a ruling at a later date.
Kasowitz also argued that Trump's statements are protected by the First Amendment because it was a political discourse in the context of a public debate.
In the last days of the presidential election, Zervos and more than a dozen women came forward to say that Trump had assaulted or sexually harassed them over the years. He denied it.
Zervos said at a press conference in October 2016 that after appearing on the Trump show, she asked him for a job. She said they met and he kissed her on the lips and asked for her phone number.
Zervos presented his accusations against Trump shortly after the publication of a video of "Access Hollywood" that featured Trump's audio showing off how he catches female genitals and gets away with it. In the 2005 video, Trump talks about forcing himself with women, kissing them and feeling them. Trump apologized for his sexually charged comments after the video surfaced.
Zervos filed a lawsuit in January. But since then, allegations of sexual misconduct against media mogul Harvey Weinstein by dozens of women began a tsunami of lawsuits for misconduct against powerful men in the media, politics, business and the arts. "Today" host Matt Lauer, PBS presenter Charlie Rose, comedian Louis C.K. and others have been knocked down by the accusations. Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan resigned Tuesday.
Zervos' lawyers cited Trump's campaign, asking to preserve any record of Zervos or other women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Trump's lawyers have suggested that the claims were composed by Zervos' attorney, Gloria Allred, who they say was determined to get "revenge" for her election. Allred, a Democratic activist, says she has not had contact with Hillary Clinton about the lawsuit.
Outside the courtroom, Allred said he was confident the case would go ahead.
"We just want to say that no man is above the law, including the president of the United States," he said.
Among the evidence presented in the case: a dozen screenshots of Trump's Twitter pages calling the claims made.
In October of 2017, in a Rose Garden press conference, Trump again skewered the accusations.
"All I can say is that it's totally false, just false, it's false, it's invented material, and it's shameful what happens," he said. "That happens in the world of politics."