Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the NBC-reality show The Apprentice announced in a press conference on January 17 that she filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump for defamation when he said she fabricated claims of sexual assault against him during the presidential campaign.
The announcement was made with Zervos’ lawyer Gloria Allred by her side just days before the inauguration. More than ten women made accusations of inappropriate sexual contact against Trump during the 2016 election campaign. He denied all the accusations.
Zervos alleges Trump defamed her in tweets and at rallies when he said her claims were fabricated.
She also alleged in November that Trump accosted her in New York City and at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007.
The latest lawsuit had no new claims of sexual misconduct. Allred is a Democratic activist, but said she has had no contact with Hillary Clinton about the suit. Zervos said she will drop her lawsuit if Trump retracts his claims.
Trump has said he never acted inappropriately toward Zervos. Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said Tuesday there is “no truth to this absurd story,” as reported by the Associated Press.
“I want Mr. Trump to know that I would still be willing to dismiss my case against him immediately for no monetary compensation if he will simply retract his false and defamatory statements about me and acknowledge that I told the truth about him,” Zervos said, reading from a statement, as reported by the Guardian.
Filed in New York State Supreme Court, the 20-page suit calls Trump a sexual predator and misogynist who assaulted many women and then abused his political position to mark them as liars.
“But it was Donald Trump who was lying when he falsely denied his predatory misconduct with Summer Zervos, and derided her for perpetrating a ‘hoax’ and making up a ‘phony’ story to get attention,” it said, as quoted in the Guardian.
Allred said she and Zervos would attend the women’s march on Washington on January 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration.
The lawyer also mentioned former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, who sued Bill Clinton in 1994 for sexual harassment, as a precedent for suing a sitting President.
Allred noted, “That is the essence and beauty of our system of justice. No one is above the law, including the President-elect, soon-to-be-President of the United States.”
In the Paula Jones case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a sitting President could be sued for activities that allegedly took place before he took office.
As the New York Times reported, Allred observed that Trump could be deposed or have to testify if the defamation case moves ahead.
She also noted that if Trump lies under oath, that would be grounds for impeachment as occurred with Clinton. Allred said, “Then I think Congress will have a very important decision to make,” the Times reported.
Zervos spoke only briefly at the news conference, noting that Trump left her no choice but to sue and that she would continue with the case until Trump admitted that she had told the truth.
She came forward like many of the other accusers after the release of the tape of Trump bragging to former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush about sexually assaulting women and then denying in a Presidential debate that he ever did such things.
Sharing her story on Oct. 14, 2016 at a news conference from Allred’s office, Zervos said that Trump kissed and groped her without consent during meetings at his office in New York and at a Los Angeles hotel.
During the Trump campaign, statements were issued denying the accusations and then accusing Zervos of seeking publicity. Tweets and remarks at rallies followed accusing Zervos and other alleged victims of fabricating “phony,” “100% false,” “outright lies” for political and financial gain.
The lawsuit says that the President-elect is the one peddling lies. “What did Donald Trump, the liar and misogynist do, to cover up his lies? He lied again, and debased and denigrated Ms. Zervos with false statements about her. Trump knew that his false, disparaging statements would be heard and read by people around the world, and that these women, including Summer Zervos, would be subjected to threats of violence, economic harm, and reputational damage,” the suit reads.
Allred observed that Trump’s lawyers would bring powerful resources to defeat the case, but that Trump must answer for his actions in a court of law, not through tweets.
As reported in the Times, Allred noted that Zervos has taken a polygraph test to help prove she is telling the truth and that Zervos has not received outside financial support for the case.
When asked about the timing of the case, Allred said two months have passed since the first demand for a retraction of his comments but Trump has not done so and must therefore face the consequences.