Trump's Lawyer Thinks His Client Can't Be Sued for Anything While President

The president's longtime lawyer argues that a clause in the Constitution could protect Trump from the defamation suit filed by a former 'Apprentice' cast member.

|
Mar 28 2017, 7:29pm

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

President Trump and his lawyer are hoping to block a lawsuit from former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos by arguing that the Constitution protects sitting presidents from facing state lawsuits, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

After accusing Trump of sexual assault during the campaign, the season five Apprentice cast member filed a defamation lawsuit against him in January after he denied he had "met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately" and called his accusers "liars." Zervos's suit essentially put the president in a position to either admit her story was true and apologize, or try to prove she lied about her account in court.

Now Trump's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is trying to make sure the case doesn't make it to court. According to the Reporter, Kasowitz plans to file a motion to block the lawsuit under the Constitution's Supremacy Clause. He argues that that clause prevents a sitting president from facing litigation in a state court, an issue he says was "raised, but not decided,by the US Supreme Court in Clinton v. Jones."

In that 1997 Supreme Court case—regarding the sexual harassment allegations brought by Paula Jones against former president Bill Clinton—Clinton's lawyers tried to argue that any lawsuits brought against the president should be dealt with after his term was up. Justice John Paul Stevens decided, however, that the president could still face private litigation while in office, though questions regarding the president's immunity in those lawsuits should be decided as early as possible. That way, the president could focus on running the country.

Apparently Kasowitz is banking on that ruling to try to block Zervos's suit. But Zervos's lawyer, civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, told the Reporter she has a different interpretation of the ruling.

"[It] determined unanimously that no man is above the law and that includes the President of the United States," Allred said. "We look forward to arguing this issue in court."

Stories