Trump appeal rejected in Summer Zervos defamation case

Summer Zervos, (R) a former contestant on “The Apprentice” arrives with lawyer Gloria Allred at the New York County Criminal Court on December 5, 2017, in New York.

Kena Betancur | AFP | Getty Images

New York’s highest court Tuesday dismissed Donald Trump’s appeal of a defamation case against him by a former contestant on his reality-TV show “The Apprentice,” on the grounds that Trump’s arguments are no longer valid since he is no longer president.

The decision from the New York Court of Appeals puts back in motion the lawsuit from Summer Zervos, who says Trump defamed her in 2016 when he called her a liar after she accused him of sexually assaulting her years earlier.

“Now a private citizen, the defendant has no further excuse to delay justice for Ms. Zervos, and we are eager to get back to the trial court and prove her claims,” Zervos’ attorney Beth Wilkinson said in a statement.

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Zervos claims Trump groped her in a hotel room in 2007. Shortly after she went public with her allegations, Trump said the women who have made allegations of sexual misconduct against him are “liars,” and he has threatened to sue them.

Zervos filed suit in New York. Trump’s most recent appeal of the case argued that, under the U.S. Constitution, state courts are not authorized to hear cases against a sitting president.

State courts may not “exercise any control (i.e., jurisdiction) over the President while he or she is in office,” Trump’s lawyers said in a court filing last May.

The case had been on hold since March 2020, when the high court denied a request from Zervos’ lawyers to keep gathering evidence while Trump’s arguments were being considered.

In February, Zervos’ lawyers asked the appeals court to dismiss Trump’s appeal, saying the now-former president wouldn’t fight them on it, the Associated Press reported.

The court, in a one-sentence ruling Tuesday morning, granted that request.

“Motion to dismiss appeal granted and appeal dismissed, without costs, upon the ground that the issues presented have become moot,” it said.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the ruling.

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