President Donald Trump’s request to have former The Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos’ defamation lawsuit against him delayed was denied Thursday by a New York appeals court. This means that Zervos’ legal team could proceed with the “discovery” process, or the gathering of unaired Apprentice outtakes and other forms of evidence that may be relevant to the case.
As noted by CNN, the appeal was made on March 20 by Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, who asked the appellate court to determine what would constitute immunity for a president who is currently in office, as indicated on the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. He also maintained that New York Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter was wrong to invoke the First Amendment when she denied Trump’s motion to dismiss or delay the Zervos case.
Furthermore, Kasowitz justified his appeal by saying that the lawsuit could “irreparably harm” Trump, and cited the stay pending appeal required by both New York and federal law. Had the court ruled in favor of the appeal, that might have resulted in a significant delay in the case, possibly until this fall at the earliest, The Guardian wrote.
“We look forward to proving Ms. Zervos’s claim that [Trump] lied when he maliciously attacked her for reporting his sexually abusive behavior,” read a statement from Summer Zervos’ lawyer, Mariann Wang.
California-based restaurant owner Zervos is one of many women who has accused Trump of sexual misconduct since the real estate magnate emerged as the Republican presidential nominee in the 2016 elections. She appeared in the fifth season of The Apprentice, which was filmed in the fall of 2005 and aired from February to June 2006. According to Bloomberg, Zervos sued Trump for defamation in 2017, saying that the president accused her of lying when she alleged that he had forcibly groped and kissed her in December 2007 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, while she was meeting him for career advice. A December 2017 report from NBC News noted that Zervos is asking for $2,914 in damages and an apology from Trump.
In reaction to her allegations, Trump previously took to Twitter to call Zervos’ claims a “hoax,” while also being quoted by Bloomberg as saying that her defamation lawsuit was “politically motivated.” The president had also claimed that Zervos only chose to take legal action against him when he was not able to accept an invitation to her restaurant and that she was still asking for career advice and “seeking employment” even after the purported acts of sexual misconduct.
According to CNN, Summer Zervos’ legal team is demanding various forms of evidence, including outtakes from The Apprentice where Zervos is featured, or those that might include negative or sexually inappropriate comments from Trump about her or other female contestants. MGM, which owns The Apprentice, previously issued a statement saying that it is contractually prohibited from releasing unaired outtakes, but has refused to issue further comment on the matter. The subpoena from Zervos’ lawyers also demands records from the Beverly Hills Hotel from 2005 through 2009, as well as “all video recordings that depict the entrances, common areas, or bungalow areas” of the hotel from December 2007.