The Washington Post reports: In the weeks leading up to his election, Donald Trump went on a tear against a list of women who had accused him of touching them inappropriately. One was Summer Zervos, who had been a contestant on his reality television show.
“False stories. All made up. Lies. Lies. No witnesses. No nothing. All big lies,” Trump declared at a rally after the Californian made a statement alleging that Trump kissed and groped her in a 2007 encounter at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
“Total fabrication,” he told a cheering crowd in Gettysburg, Pa. “The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”
As the nation wrestles with a historic shift in how to address old charges of sexual misbehavior, allegations against Trump, which date to his days as a New York developer, have become part of the public debate. Trump has repeatedly said the accusations against him are groundless. But by turning personal and branding the women liars, Trump has perhaps unwittingly played into a cutting-edge strategy in the legal pursuit of sexual misconduct — claims of defamation such as those used against comedian Bill Cosby and in a lesser-known New York case, argued by two lawyers who are now representing Zervos.
The defamation suit filed in January in New York State Supreme Court by Zervos, a short-lived contestant on “The Apprentice,” has reached a critical point, with oral arguments over Trump’s motion to dismiss scheduled for Tuesday, after which the judge is expected to rule on whether the case may move forward.
If it proceeds, Zervos’s attorneys could gather and make public incidents from Trump’s past and Trump could be called to testify, with the unwelcome specter of a former president looming over him: It was Bill Clinton’s misleading sworn testimony — not the repeated allegations of sexual harassment against him — that eventually led to his impeachment. [Continue reading…]