In this Dec. 5, 2017 file photo, Summer Zervos leaves Manhattan Supreme Court at the conclusion of a hearing in New York. 
Kathy Willens/AP Photo

Defamation lawsuit grows even more serious for Trump

Updated

The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/14/19, 9:20 PM ET

Zervos ruling clears path for new case against Trump Foundation

Rachel Maddow explains how the court victory for Summer Zervos in her lawsuit against Donald Trump has also made way for New York State Attorney General Letitia James to move ahead with a case against the Trump Foundation.
Rachel Maddow explains how the court victory for Summer Zervos in her lawsuit against Donald Trump has also made way for New York State Attorney General Letitia James to move ahead with a case against the Trump Foundation.
As much of the world no doubt recalls, Trump was recorded in 2005 bragging about committing sexual assaults. The Republican said, among other things, that he kisses women he considers attractive – “I don’t even wait,” Trump claimed at the time – which he said he can get away with because of his public profile.

“When you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump said on the recording. “You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the p—y.”

After Trump denied having done what he bragged about doing, more than a few women came forward to accuse the Republican of sexual misconduct – one of whom, Summer Zervos, is currently suing the president for defamation, after Trump insisted each of his accusers were liars.

Trump and his lawyers have spent months trying to make the case go away, insisting that a sitting president is immune to civil suits in state courts. Those efforts keep failing.

A New York appellate court ruled Thursday that President Trump must face a defamation lawsuit filed by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, one of about a dozen women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct shortly before the 2016 election. […]

In its ruling Thursday, a panel of New York appellate judges rejected that argument, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Clinton v. Jones, which established that presidents can be sued while in office for unofficial acts. Two of the five judges on the panel dissented in part.

“Contrary to defendant’s contention, Clinton v Jones did not suggest that its reasoning would not apply to state court actions,” the New York court concluded. “It merely identified a potential constitutional concern. Notwithstanding that concern, this Court should not be deterred from holding that a state court can exercise jurisdiction over the President as a defendant in a civil lawsuit.”

The president’s lawyers, who insist Trump did nothing wrong, still have some appeals to file, so yesterday’s ruling, while important, wasn’t the final word on the subject. That said, if/when the case advances in earnest, the lawsuit may prove to be more than a minor inconvenience.

In fact, the discovery process may soon get underway, and Zervos’ lawyer has raised the prospect of seeking, among the things, documents from the Trump Organization about the president’s alleged mistreatment of women, recordings from the archives of the president’s former reality show, and surveillance footage from the hotel in which Zervos says Trump groped her.

All of this may also include deposing the president himself under oath.

According to the Associated Press’ account, the current schedule for this case has set a June 28 deadline for depositions. Watch this space.