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Defamation lawsuit grows more serious for Trump

As if Donald Trump's lawyers weren't already busy, Summer Zervos' civil suit creates a real threat -- which isn't going away.
Image: US President Donald J. Trump
epa06525535 US President Donald J. Trump speaks on domestic violence during a meeting on taxes, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, USA,...

As if Donald Trump's lawyers weren't already busy, the president's defense team has made repeated efforts to make Summer Zervos' civil suit go away. As we were reminded yesterday, those efforts aren't going well.

New York's highest court on Thursday denied President Donald Trump's attempt to put the brakes on a defamation suit from former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos.The decision by the New York Court of Appeals marks another failed bid from Trump to halt or delay the lawsuit brought by Zervos.

Zervos' lawyer, Mariann Wang, said in a statement to CNBC. "This is now the third time the courts have rejected defendant's effort to block the progress of this case. We look forward to continuing the discovery process and exposing the truth."

It's that discovery process that should worry the president.

Let's quickly review how we reached this point. 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’s lawyers have tried a variety of arguments to make the case go away – the president has denied any wrongdoing – but as of yesterday afternoon, those efforts haven't gone well.

And what happens if the case advances in earnest? The discover process will get underway, and Zervos' lawyer has quite a wish list in mind. As we discussed in early May, they're 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 she was attacked.

What's more, the plaintiff's lawyers have subpoenaed Trump personally -- and intend to depose him under oath.

Vox's report noted, "Trump isn't totally out of options. The court's decision didn't rule on the merits of Trump's argument -- whether state courts don't have jurisdiction over the president -- and instead said it couldn't yet rule on that because the lower court hasn't made a final decision on the president's motions."

In other words, the legal process still has some hoops to jump through, but the broader danger for Trump remains very real.