Shared from the 2017-03-29 Chattanooga eEdition

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Trump lawyers say president is immune from suit filed by ‘Apprentice’ contestant

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s lawyers say he’s immune while president from defamation claims brought by a former contestant on his reality TV show “The Apprentice” who accused him of unwanted sexual contact.

The lawyers said in a state Supreme Court filing Monday they’ll formally ask for a dismissal or a suspension of the January claims by Summer Zervos until he leaves office. They said the Constitution immunizes Trump from being sued in state court while president.

The lawyers said their position is supported by a long line of U.S. Supreme Court cases requiring courts to show deference to the president and his schedule.

Zervos was a contestant on Trump’s reality show in 2006. She sued after Trump dismissed as “fabricated and made-up charges” her claims at a news conference that he made unwanted sexual contact with her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007.

The lawsuit sought an apology and $2,914.

Trump’s lawyers said in Monday’s filing the president denies “these unfounded accusations” and was prepared to show they were “false, legally insufficient and made in a transparent politically-motivated attack.” They said the allegations have been disputed even by a member of Zervos’ family.

Zervos was among several women who made various allegations, including sexual assault, against Trump when he was the Republican nominee during the presidential race last year. Trump has denied their allegations.

A fte r a p p e a r i n g o n Trump’s show, Zervos said she later asked him for a job. She said they met and he kissed her on the lips and asked for her phone number. She said at a later meeting at a California hotel he became sexually aggressive, kissing her and touching her breasts.

A Zervos attorney, Gloria Allred, said she doesn’t believe the president of the United States enjoys legal immunity from a defamation lawsuit. She said the Supreme Court addressed the legal immunity issue in a case involving former President Bill Clinton and “determined unanimously that no man is above the law, and that includes the president of the United States.”

“We look forward,” she said, “to arguing this issue in court.”

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