Trump’s Lawyer: We’ll Take Summer Zervos Case All the Way to the Supreme Court
After judge ruled that a sitting president is not immune from lawsuits in state court and asserted, “no one is above the law.”
As Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos’ defamation case against President Trump continues, his attorney says he’s prepared to bring the case to the Supreme Court.
During a hearing in Manhattan on Tuesday morning, Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz said he’d argue before the nation’s highest court, if necessary.
His comments came during a preliminary conference, in which New York Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter set a roadmap for discovery deadlines.
“We have made applications for stays in the appellate division. The Court of Appeals is considering whether or not it has jurisdiction,” Kasowitz said, adding, “This issue will likely reach the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Kasowitz declined to comment after the hearing, which Zervos herself did not attend.
Trump’s attorneys previously asked Judge Schecter to dismiss the case, arguing that a sitting president is immune from lawsuits in state courts. But Schecter disagreed, and in a March ruling said, “No one is above the law.”
“In the end, there is absolutely no authority for dismissing or staying civil action related purely to unofficial conduct because defendant is president of the United States,” Schecter noted.
Kasowitz has appealed Schecter’s ruling. Last month, a New York appeals court denied Trump’s motion to “pause discovery” in the case while the appeal is pending, paving the way for a gathering of evidence.
Zervos’ team issued subpoenas to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns the archives of The Apprentice, and the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Zervos claims the now-president groped her—and where he allegedly met with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.
Zervos is seeking any documents, video or audio that feature her, or Trump talking about her, as well as recordings of Trump commenting about women “in any sexual or inappropriate manner.”
Meanwhile, Zervos also subpoenaed the hotel for records of Trump’s stays from 2005 to 2009, and records relating to Trump’s ex-bodyguard and confidant, Keith Schiller, and his longtime assistant, Rhona Graff.
Zervos, a restaurant owner who was fired from Trump’s reality show The Apprentice in 2006, filed her defamation suit in January 2017. After Zervos came forward in 2016, saying Trump groped her, the president accused her of telling “phony stories.”
The Apprentice contestant came forward after the release of the Access Hollywood tapes, where Trump made his infamous “grab ‘em by the pussy” comments.
“Ms. Zervos was ambushed by Mr. Trump on more than one occasion,” her complaint states. “Mr. Trump suddenly, and without her consent, kissed her on her mouth repeatedly; he touched her breast; and he pressed his genitals up against her. Ms. Zervos never consented to any of this disgusting touching.”
Zervo says Trump’s public response to her story caused her emotional and financial distress, and said her restaurant lost customers.
In court Tuesday, Zervos’ attorney, Mariann Wang, asked that the case continue without further delays from Team Trump.
“We should now after, a year and a half, get moving,” Wang said, adding that Zervos was prepared for an August deposition. (Kasowitz, in court, said he did not plan to proceed with this deposition.)
By fighting the case in the state’s appellate division, the state Court of Appeals and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court, Trump’s camp “is effectively imposing a stay on this matter,” Wang said. “We would ask for an orderly preliminary conference order that allows us to proceed now.”
Wang also broached another potential roadblock in the Zervos case: the request for documents relating to other women.
The attorney said she subpoenaed the Trump campaign for any and all documents about other women who have alleged that Trump subjected them to unwanted touching or inappropriate comment. The campaign, Wang said, objected to her request.
Schecter asked both sides for a briefing on the matter.
Kasowitz said he’ll seek a blanket protective order in the case, similar to what was used in Clinton v. Jones, to keep the identities of witnesses and sensitive information under seal.
“We do note the high degree of media interest in the case and our position at this point would be that if such interest intrudes on the rights and interests of the litigants,” it could affect Trump’s right to a fair trial.
Kasowitz then told Judge Schecter that his side “will do our best to abide by case deadlines,” but that because of the significant duties of the president, “we reserve the right to make motions to adjourn deadlines.”
“And I will deal with those as they come,” Schecter said.