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Judge Rules Trump Can Be Deposed in Defamation Lawsuit

Newsweek logo Newsweek 6/5/2018 Paul Leblanc

FILE- In this Dec. 5, 2017 file photo, Summer Zervos leaves Manhattan Supreme Court at the conclusion of a hearing in New York. A New York court said Thursday, May 17, 2018, that the former "Apprentice" contestant can proceed with her defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump, at least for now. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) © The Associated Press FILE- In this Dec. 5, 2017 file photo, Summer Zervos leaves Manhattan Supreme Court at the conclusion of a hearing in New York. A New York court said Thursday, May 17, 2018, that the former "Apprentice" contestant can proceed with her defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump, at least for now. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

President Donald Trump can be deposed in a defamation case a New York Judge ruled Tuesday.

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice” claimed Trump kissed her and groped her while she was a contestant on the show in 2007. After Trump repeatedly denied her claims, calling her a liar, Zervos filed a defamation claim in January 2017, just days before his inauguration. Zervos was one of more than a dozen women to accuse President Trump of sexual misconduct during his campaign.

Both parties have been given a deadline of January 31, 2019, to submit depositions.

Earlier in May, Trump was forced to respond to all 90 items in Zervos’s complaint against him. Trump denied almost every allegation while responding to some he didn’t have “information sufficient to form a belief.” Following Trump's denials, Mariann Wang, Zervos’s attorney, told Newsweek: “We look forward to proving his denial are baseless.” She did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Trump’s legal team, led by attorney Marc Kasowitz, has filed appeals to New York’s highest court in an attempt to stop the lawsuit and avoid deposition, arguing the case is politically motivated. On Tuesday, he argued unsuccessully that the case should not be allowed to proceed until the higher court has ruled on whether a sitting president can be sued in state court.

“It’s merely seeking a determination at the highest level of competent jurisdiction as to the resolution of this very important constitutional issue,” Kasowitz said in court, according to Reuters.

In recent days, Trump has fueled suggestions that he believes, as president, he is above the law.

Trump claimed on Twitter that he has the power to pardon himself while taking aim at Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 election and colluded with the Trump campaign. “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” he said. “In the meantime the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!”

In June 2017, Trump tweeted that “all agree” the U.S. President has “the complete power to pardon.” Trump's lawyers have also argued that he cannot obstruct justice.

Judge Jennifer Schechter ordered lawyers for both Zervos and Trump must issue their demands for documents by July 13. According to The New York Post, Kasowitz indicated in court Trump’s legal team may need more time.

“We will do our best to abide by those dates and deadlines,” he said. “There are significant attendant duties that the president must perform.”

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