Trump: Calling Sexual Assault Accusers Liars Is ‘Hyperbole’ Protected By First Amendment

AP

President Donald Trump’s attorneys argued in a court filing late Friday that a defamation lawsuit from former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos—who claims Trump sexually assaulted her nearly a decade ago—should be dismissed.

Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz said that Zervos’ accusations are false and “politically motivated,” and said that Trump’s campaign trail statements calling Zervos and 10 other women who accused him of sexual harassment “liars…telling totally false stories” are legal under the First Amendment and do not constitute defamation.

“The Statements—all of which were advanced during a heated political campaign to convince the public to vote for Mr. Trump, and many of which were published via Twitter—constitute non-actionable rhetoric and hyperbole that is protected by the First Amendment,” the filing reads.

Kasowitz, who is also representing him in the investigation into potential collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 election, further argued that a 1997 Supreme Court ruling that held that presidents can be sued while in office for their private conduct only applies to federal lawsuits. Zervos’ lawsuit was filed in New York’s state court system.

Zervos, who must file a reply to the court in August, has accused Trump of groping and kissing her against her will when she visited him to ask for a job at the Trump Organization. She said she would not have filed the suit had the infamous Access Hollywood tape of Trump bragging about groping another woman not leaked, and had Trump not publicly denied he had ever engaged in such behavior.

“You do not have the right to treat women as sexual objects just because you are a star,” Zervos said when she filed the suit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.
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