A NY state appeals court on Thursday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's effort to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by a former contestant on his television show "The Apprentice" or delay it until after he leaves the White House.
Trump's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said he planned to appeal to New York's highest court.
But the court ruled on Thursday that the case will move forward, finding that Trump's argument that a sitting president can not be sued in state court "conflicts with the fundamental principle that the United States has a 'government of laws and not of men'".
In a defamation lawsuit filed by attorneys for Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice", Judge Dianne Renwick wrote, "the President is still a person, and he is not above the law". But the NY appeals court said the clause in no way grants Trump such immunity.
The Zervos case has already brought forth dozens of recorded depositions with Trump Organization figures as senior as Allen Weisselberg, the company's CFO, who had been at Mr. Trump's side for decades.
Attorneys for President Trump argued that as President, he can not be sued.
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The appeals court called Ms Zervos's case "materially indistinguishable" from former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones's lawsuit accusing then-president Bill Clinton of sexual harassment. In a June 2018 lawsuit, the Attorney General claimed the foundation was operated as a "shell corporation that functioned as a checkbook" for Mr. Trump, his campaign and businesses.
Neither New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, nor a Trump Foundation attorney immediately responded to requests for comment Thursday. She alleges that Trump "ambushed" her on multiple occasions, starting in 2007, and kissed her on the mouth, touched her breast and rubbed his genitals against her.
Trump has agreed to shutter the foundation and give away its remaining $1 million in assets to other charities, but the details of that settlement have not been announced. "The result the Supreme Court reached in Jones. may well have been entirely correct". In short, she was able to file a suit against Trump because he publicly called her a liar.
That lawsuit was dismissed on March 7.
But the Zervos case differs in several key aspects, legal experts have noted.
Trump denied the allegation, writing in a statement at the time that he "never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately".
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.