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Judge rejects Trump's bid to dismiss 'Apprentice' groping suit

By Susan McFarland
Judge rejects Trump's bid to dismiss 'Apprentice' groping suit
A New York judge rejected a request by President Donald Trump to dismiss a lawsuit relating to his alleged assault of Summer Zervos (R), a contestant on his reality show The Apprentice. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

March 21 (UPI) -- A New York judge rejected a request by President Donald Trump to dismiss a lawsuit relating to his alleged assault of Summer Zervos, a former contestant on his reality show, The Apprentice.

Trump may be forced to respond under oath to the suit, filed in January 2017, which accuses him of groping her in 2007.

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"No one is above the law," New York State Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter wrote in her 18-page decision. "Nothing in the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution even suggests that the President cannot be called to account before a state court for wrongful conduct that bears no relationship to any federal executive responsibility."

The ruling cited the 1997 Supreme Court decision regarding Paula Jones' lawsuit against former President Bill Clinton. In that case, the court held that Clinton did not have immunity in federal lawsuits over private acts.

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Zervos said she filed the defamation suit against Trump because of his public response to her accusation of sexual assault. She said Trump attacked, denigrated and lied about her during rallies and interviews. Zervos said she would be willing to drop the suit if the Trump retracts what he said about her and admits the assault happened.

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Naomi Mezey, a professor at Georgetown Law School and an expert on civil procedure, said if the president testifies, he could be forced to testify about similar cases. She said the decision will likely be appealed and could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump's lawyer in the case, Marc Kasowitz, said an appeal is planned.

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"We disagree with this decision, which is wrong as a matter of constitutional law," Kasowitz said in a statement. "We intend to immediately appeal and will seek a stay of the case until this issue is finally determined."

This ruling may complicate matters regarding the president's effort to dismiss other allegations against him, including a reported $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, who performed under the stage name Stormy Daniels. Clifford was allegedly paid the money in exchange for not talking about a sexual relationship she had with Trump in 2006.

An attempt to squash another reported hush agreement occurred Tuesday. Former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who says she had a 10-month affair with Trump starting in 2006, sued a media company to void a 2016 contract requiring her not to talk about the encounter.

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