A judge ruled Tuesday that President Donald Trump can be deposed in a defamation lawsuit brought last year by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice” who says Trump kissed and groped her after she appeared on the show.
Zervos is one of more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of unwanted sexual contact. The president has vehemently denied all of the women’s claims, which he called “100 percent fabricated,” and he retweeted a tweet describing Zervos’ claim as a “hoax.” Zervos filed a defamation claim against Trump in January 2017 over those denials.
Lawyers for both sides must issue their demands for documents as part of discovery by July 13, and those responses must be provided by Sept. 27, Judge Jennifer Schecter ordered Tuesday. Both parties are ordered to submit third party subpoenas by March 23, 2019.
Schecter ordered both parties to submit to depositions too, with a deadline of Jan. 31, 2019. All depositions of people who are “non-parties” to the case must be conducted by Feb. 28. She ordered fact discovery to be completed by April 12.
Trump could still avoid a deposition, though. His lawyers have appealed to New York’s highest court in hopes of avoiding it. His legal team has argued that Zervos’ lawsuit is politically motivated.
Schecter ruled earlier this year that the defamation case could proceed, despite Trump’s attorneys’ argument that a sitting president cannot be sued in state court. “No one is above the law,” Schechter wrote in her March 20 ruling.
The president’s attorneys appealed that ruling and last month unsuccessfully sought to delay the proceedings.
Trump’s lawyers have taken the second appeal to the New York Court of Appeals, where they are awaiting a response.