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.