March 14, 2019

NY appeals court finds Trump can be sued for defamation while in office

Variety -President Donald Trump is not immune from a defamation lawsuit brought by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, even as his lawyers argued that the case should at least be deferred until the end of his term, a New York appeals court ruled.

Trump’s attorneys had argued that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution shielded Trump from the claim, but Justice Dianne Renwick wrote that the clause was “never intended to deprive a state court of its authority to decide cases and controversies under the state’s constitution.”

She wrote that “federal law supersedes state law with which it conflicts, but it does not provide that the President himself is immune from state law that does not conflict with federal law. Since there is no federal law conflicting with or displacing this defamation action, the Supremacy Clause does not provide a basis for immunizing the President from state court civil damages actions.”

Less than a month before the 2016 election, Zervos held a press conference in which she claimed that Trump made unwanted sexual advances toward her as she sought his professional advice. In her lawsuit, she claims that she was defamed after Trump characterized her allegations as lies.

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