In case anyone has forgotten, just before being elected president of the United States, Donald Trump was accused by multiple women of sexual assault. The accusers were compelled to come forward in hopes of keeping their alleged attacker out of the White House.
After the election, Trump’s accusers mysteriously ducked out of the public eye, but cases filed against him have continued to loom over his presidency. His legal team, however, is working diligently to sweep the lawsuits under the rug.
On Friday, reports surfaced that Trump’s lawyers are trying to get a defamation lawsuit thrown out that was brought against him by a former “Apprentice” contestant, ThinkProgress reports.
Summer Zervos, who was featured in the fifth season of the reality show, filed the suit against Trump in January, claiming that the president tarnished her reputation along the campaign trail after she spoke out about the alleged sexual assault.
According to ThinkProgress, Trump’s lawyers are clinging to the First Amendment, arguing that he was simply saying what he needed to in order to win the presidency.
Attorney Marc Kasowitz, who represents Trump, submitted a 53-page filing late Friday evening in New York state court, asserting that the defamation case should be dismissed because a sitting president can’t be sued through the state court system. Although a 1997 Supreme Court ruling determined that presidents can be sued for their private conduct while in office, Kasowitz insists that ruling was limited to cases brought up in federal court.
Additionally, Kasowitz wrote that Zervos doesn’t have enough evidence to claim defamation and justifies Trump’s comments toward his accusers as “hyperbole and opinion,” which is protected under the First Amendment. He also restates Trump’s contention that Zervos’ sexual assault accusations are false.
After Zervos and several other women came forward with their accusations last October, following the now-infamous “Access Hollywood” leaked tapes, Trump denounced their claims by saying they were lying and suggested that several of them weren't attractive enough for him to assault.
Kasowitz wrote in his filing that Trump’s remarks can’t be considered defamatory as they were “nothing more than heated campaign rhetoric designed to persuade the public audience that Mr. Trump should be elected president irrespective of what the media and his opponents had claimed over his 18-month campaign.”
Trump has yet to provide any concrete proof that the assaults did not happen in the way that his accusers described, despite promising to do so while campaigning.
However, Zervos and her attorney, Gloria Allred, have said that they will drop the defamation case if Trump retracts his statements about his accusers being liars. Allred has not yet responded to Kasowitz’s filing.
This appears to be a case of Trump trying to quietly put out the fire sparked by his accusers' stories. If Zervos' defamation case is thrown out, there is no doubt that Trump will use it as a victory to back his claims that Zervos and the other accusers are lying, thus opening the floodgates for his aggressive supporters to resort to victim-blaming.
This is exactly why the suit should not be dismissed and Trump should have to face the courts and actually prove to the American people that he is innocent of these acts.