from a lawsuit filed by a former “Apprentice” contestant who accused him of unwanted kissing and groping.

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.

The ruling means that attorneys for Zervos may have the opportunity to question Trump under oath in the coming months. The current schedule sets a deadline of June 28 for depositions, with document and electronic discovery expected to be concluded by the end of July. Trump has called Zervos and the other women who made accusations against him “liars,” prompting Zervos to file a lawsuit in 2017.

Trump’s attorneys have tried unsuccessfully to block the suit, arguing that the president is immune from such lawsuits in state court.

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 judges said in their majority decision. “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.”

Zervos’ legal team hailed the ruling as an affirmation that Trump “is not above the law.”

“The case has proceeded in the trial court and discovery continues,” Mariann Wang, Zervos’s attorney, said in a statement. “We look forward to proving to a jury that Ms. Zervos told the truth about Defendant’s unwanted sexual groping and holding him accountable for his malicious lies.”

Trump’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz, said that he disagreed with the ruling and that the president plans to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals, “which we expect will agree with the dissent.”

“We believe,” Kasowitz said in a statement, “that the well-reasoned dissenting opinion by 2 of the 5 justices, citing the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Clinton v. Jones case, is correct in concluding that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution bars state courts from hearing cases against the President while he or she is in office.”

Zervos has said Trump forcibly kissed and groped her during a December 2007 encounter at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. Trump denied the allegations.

The ruling in Zervos’ case also hurts Trump’s cause in a separate New York lawsuit – this one involving his troubled charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Last year, the New York attorney general sued Trump, alleging “persistently illegal conduct” at the charity he has run for 31 years.

Among other allegations, the attorney general said Trump had used his charity’s money to pay legal settlements for his for-profit businesses, to buy expensive portraits of himself, and to serve as an extension of his political campaign in 2016, making donations arranged by campaign staffers.

That suit is also filed in New York state court, and Trump’s attorneys had argued that his status as president should exempt him from state suits. In a recent ruling, the judge in the Trump Foundation case said that if the Zervos ruling were to go in Trump’s favor, she would also dismiss the charity lawsuit.

The foundation case likely will proceed.

Neither New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, nor a Trump Foundation attorney immediately responded to requests for comment Thursday. Many of the allegations about misconduct at the Trump Foundation were first reported by The Washington Post in 2016.

Also on Thursday, James entered a new legal filing with what she said were “undisputed” facts about the Trump Foundation. Among them: James said that the foundation’s board, which was legally required to oversee the charity’s spending, had not met since 1999.

“The Foundation is little more than an empty shell that functions with no oversight by a board of directors,” James said in the filing.

The lawsuit – first filed under her predecessor, Barbara Underwood – asks for Trump to pay millions in penalties and restitution, and to be barred from serving on the board of any New York charity for 10 years. It seeks shorter-term bans on charity service for Trump’s children Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr., who were all members of the foundation’s board.

Trump has agreed to shutter the foundation and give away its remaining $1 million in assets to other charities, but the details of that settlement have not been announced.

The Zervos case is not the only defamation lawsuit Trump has faced as president.

Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels had filed a separate suit against Trump, arguing that he defamed her when he suggested that she had lied about being threatened to keep quiet about their alleged past relationship. That lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in October.

In dismissing the Daniels case, U.S. District Judge James Otero wrote that Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, had presented herself as Trump’s “political adversary” and that Trump’s “rhetorical hyperbole” was protected speech.

But the Zervos case differs in several key aspects, legal experts have noted.

In contrast to Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, Zervos and her lawyers have taken a low-key approach, a step that may help them negate claims that the suit is politically motivated. (Daniels said Wednesday that Avenatti will no longer represent her.)

The Zervos case is also based on more than a dozen statements by Trump saying that she and other women had made false accusations against him. In the Daniels case, only one statement by Trump was at issue.


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