President Donald Trump lost his latest bid Monday to delay a former “Apprentice” contestant’s defamation suit as he faces a Jan. 31 deadline to undergo pretrial questioning in the case, which involves claims of unwanted kissing and groping.
A New York appellate judge rejected Trump’s request, meaning that Summer Zervos’ case can continue, at least for now. Trump’s lawyers signaled they intend to pursue more legal avenues to try to hold off Summer Zervos’ case.
The law firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, said in a statement Monday it’s pleased that an appeals judge OK’d a speedy schedule for Trump’s next round of court papers. Zervos’ lawyer, Mariann Wang, declined to comment.
Zervos, a California restaurateur, appeared on “The Apprentice” when Trump hosted the show in 2006. She alleges the then-businessman subjected her to unwelcome advances when she sought career advice in 2007.
She says he defamed her by calling her a liar when she came forward publicly during his 2016 presidential campaign. Both he and she are Republicans. His lawyers have argued his statements weren’t defamatory.
Trump’s attorneys have repeatedly tried to get the case dismissed, or postponed until after his presidency. They argue that the U.S. Constitution prevents sitting presidents from being sued in state courts over alleged actions that aren’t related to their official duties.
A midlevel New York appeals court ruled against Trump in a 3-2 decision in March.
Monday’s decision came after Trump’s lawyers sought to freeze the case while they ask judges to revisit previous denials. They pointed to the division on the appeals court, as well as to decisions putting certain other lawsuits against Trump on hold in New York and some federal courts.
Zervos was among more than a dozen women who came forward during Trump’s 2016 campaign to accuse him of sexual assault or sexual harassment over the years.
Trump called them “liars” trying to harm him with “100 percent fabricated” stories. He also issued a statement denying Zervos’ allegations and retweeted a message calling them “a hoax.”
Zervos is seeking a retraction, an apology and damages.
The two sides have agreed to a Jan. 31 deadline for the president to undergo a deposition, a legal term for sworn questioning conducted out of court. His lawyers can take a bit longer to depose Zervos.
— Jennifer Peltz, Associated Press