President Trump’s lawyer wants a judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit related to charges of sexual harassment, claiming it would end up “controlling” Trump’s time and take him away from a job he does “24-7.” But the lawyer of the woman who filed it contends he could carve a few minutes out of his golf schedule.
“It’s certainly true that a president has to do his job 24 hours a day. He’s also a human being who does not do his job 24 hours a day,” says attorney Mariann Wang. “We can certainly ensure that we take a deposition down at Mar-a-Lago in between his playing golf.”
Wang represents Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice who claims that Trump made unwanted sexual advances toward her a decade ago, kissing her repeatedly, groping her breast and thrusting his genitals at her. After Trump issued a statement dismissing her claims, she filed the defamation suit. It now sits before a New York Supreme Court judge, who will determine if the case can proceed.
At issue: Whether a sitting president can be sued in state court. Trump’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz, argues the president is protected from lawsuits while he’s in office. In Paula Jones’ 1997 case against Bill Clinton, the Supreme Court ruled that presidents are not immune from civil lawsuits in office, but whether that applies to state cases is unclear. Kasowitz argues that only a federal court, which has power equal to the president, can entertain a suit against him.
Wang, Zervos’s attorney, responded that although she understood the president is busy, “the individual who holds that office is not above the law.”
Kasowitz has also argued that Trump’s denial doesn’t constitute defamation and that Zervos’s suit is politically motivated.
Judge Jennifer Schecter hasn’t given a timeline for issuing a ruling.