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

In this combination photo, President Donald Trump, left, listens during a meeting on healthcare in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on March 13, 2017 in Washington and Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The... In this combination photo, President Donald Trump, left, listens during a meeting on healthcare in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on March 13, 2017 in Washington and Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice" appears at a news conference in Los Angeles on Oct. 14, 2016, to announce claims that Trump made unwanted sexual contact with her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007. She sued after Trump dismissed as “fabricated and made-up charges.” Trump’s lawyers say he’s immune from defamation claims brought by Zervos. Lawyers said in a state Supreme Court filing Monday, March 27, 2017, they’ll formally ask for a dismissal or a suspension of the claims until he leaves office. (AP Photos/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, left, and Ringo H.W. Chiu, Files) MORE LESS
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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.

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  1. Avatar for pshah pshah says:

    “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.

    So, basically admitting Trump lied and slandered these women while excusing it by saying it was political rhetoric.

    Trump’s reign has been hyperbolic and should be dismissed.

  2. Non-lawyer speculation here. Are Trump’s lawyers planning to argue that state criminal or civil charges cannot be brought against a sitting President?
    Right now Trump has no cover if and when Scheiderman lowers the boom on Trump.
    Whether such a move could have any justification isn’t my question, but simply whether this could be a future move.

  3. published via Twitter—constitute non-actionable rhetoric and hyperbole

    Interesting take on Twitter…
    I’d like another example of campaign hyperbole from a presidential candidate or any candidate directed at an individual person unconnected to politics or any political issue.

  4. They’re not preparing to. They explicitly made that argument in another section of this brief. They’re bending dicta in Clinton v. Jones past the breaking point to make that argument supplemented by several paragraphs of harrumphing and “because reasons.”

    And yes, you have probably identified the more strategically significant part, because the part highlighted in this article, about the First Amendment, is just this side of sanctionably ridiculous.

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