Donald Trump has his legal team working overtime since he’s the president. Currently, they’re preparing to argue that Trump is immune from civil litigation until after he is out of office (so, hopefully another month or two, tops).
Trump is currently being sued by Summer Zervos in New York. Zervos is alleging that Trump defamed her during the campaign when he called her a phony and a hoax after she accused him of groping and kissing her against her will when she appeared on Trump’s TV show.
In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled, “litigation against the president over conduct unrelated to his public office can proceed while he is in office”. Care to guess when that ruling was handed down? You guessed it, when Arkansas state employee Paula Jones sued President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment, but clearly things are different now for Trump.
Washington Post explains:
Because of that deference, Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz wrote in a motion filed Monday that the Zervos case should be put on hold until the court can resolve the issue of whether Trump can be sued in state courts. He wrote that the issue was raised, but not decided, in the Paula Jones case, which involved a federal harassment suit.
The Jones case helps illustrate the potential perils of civil litigation for the president. After losing at the Supreme Court, Clinton ultimately settled the Jones case without admitting fault. Before he did, however, he was required to sit for a deposition in the matter, where he was accused of lying about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, which led to his impeachment.
One of Jones’s lawyers who successfully argued Clinton was not immune from such lawsuits was George T. Conway III, the husband to Trump aide Kellyanne Conway. Trump has nominated George Conway to lead the Justice Department’s civil division.
“Defendant Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States, intends to file a motion to dismiss this action on the ground, among others, that the United States Constitution, including the Supremacy Clause contained therein, immunizes the President from being sued in state court while in office,” Kasowitz wrote.
Eleven women went public on Trump before the election, accusing him of various forms of sexual harassment, but, of course, Trump denied all of it.
Interesting that so many of the same Republicans that got Clinton impeached over his lying about his sexual misconduct are completely silent on Trump’s. Instead, Trump gets to call all of these women liars and threaten to sue them for defamation.