Executive Branch

Trump brief argues sexual misconduct denial is protected political opinion, seeks suit dismissal

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Donald Trump

President Donald Trump. Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.com

A brief filed on behalf of President Donald Trump argues he was expressing a political opinion protected by the First Amendment when he denied claims of sexual misconduct during the campaign.

The Oct. 31 brief seeks dismissal of a defamation suit filed by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, report BuzzFeed News, the Washington Post, the Hollywood Reporter and the New York Times.

“Political and, in particular, campaign speech is quintessential speech protected by the First Amendment and are universally so viewed,” the brief argues.

The comments were “part of the expected fiery rhetoric, hyperbole and opinion that is squarely protected by the First Amendment,” according to the brief.

Lawyers for Trump also argue that the supremacy clause prevents a state court from hearing a civil case against a sitting president, and that the alleged sexual misconduct never occurred. At the very least, the brief says, the case should be delayed until Trump leaves office.

Trump had denied greeting Zervos “inappropriately” after she said he groped and kissed her without her consent at a Los Angeles hotel where he had arranged to meet her for dinner. Trump also said the several women who accused him of unwanted touching were telling stories that were “phony” and “100 percent fabricated,” Zervos had alleged.

The new brief was filed by Marc Kasowitz and two other lawyers. Zervos is represented by Gloria Allred, who is seeking to subpoena campaign records related to women who have accused him of inappropriate conduct.

Adds missing word in last paragraph on Nov. 3

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