President Donald Trump may never have to speak with Bob Mueller under oath, but a new ruling from a judge in New York means that he will have to speak with Summer Zervos and her attorneys.
The ruling says that Trump must sit for a deposition in the defamation lawsuit brought by Zervos, the former Apprentice contestant who accused Trump of sexual harassment.
And now, various legal experts and law professors are saying that the Zervos case, because it will require testimony under oath, may be a bigger threat to Donald Trump than any other legal action against him.
In May we reported that “U.S. President Donald Trump asked New York state’s highest court to delay a defamation lawsuit against him by a former contestant on his reality television show “The Apprentice” who claimed he sexually harassed her.” But this week’s ruling says a 7-hour deposition must happen by the end of January
— The Hill (@thehill) June 10, 2018
This legal battle is extremely dangerous to Trump because he may have to give sworn testimony, subjecting him to the risk of lying under oath. He could then be prosecuted for perjury, and possibly be subjected to an impeachment trial.
Trump’s attorneys of course will fight hard to keep the president from being interviewed by attorneys for Zervos. Gloria Allred, previous attorney for Zervos, said Trump’s attorneys will not be successful:
“It will not surprise me if they do everything and anything they can to stall this case and the taking of Mr. Trump’s deposition. They can try to avoid, they can try to evade the taking of the deposition, but I believe that it will happen and that judgment day is coming.
Trump’s attorney Marc Kasowitz said the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution prevents a state court from hearing a case against a sitting president, and asked for the case to be dismissed.
New York State Judge Jennifer Schecter, however, ruled that no one is above the law. “It is settled that the President of the United States has no immunity and is ‘subject to the laws’ for purely private acts,” she wrote.
Legal experts say that sitting for a deposition under oath is like entering a minefield for Trump. It is extremely risky and the chances of him suffering harm are very great.
“If he perjures himself that raises the potential for a much more lasting and dangerous situation,” said David Super, a professor at Georgetown Law School.
Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University Law School, said that any attempts from Trump’s legal team to squash a deposition won’t be successful. According to Turley:
“The president is not immune from giving a deposition. It’s true federal courts have said there should be deference given to the president’s time in scheduling and in the length of deposition, but it’s well-established the president doesn’t have immunity from giving a civil deposition.”
Allred said Zervos’ attorneys have offered to accommodate Trump’s schedule and if necessary take his deposition between rounds of golf at Mar-a-Lago.
Zervos’s attorney Mariann Wang said in court this week that she wants to question the president about the other women who have accused Trump of sexually harassing them.
Zervos filed her defamation case against Trump during his presidential campaign in 2016. He accused her of making up a “phony” story to get attention, calling her account “100 percent fabricated.”
Zervos is now seeking $3,000 in damages and wants the president to apologize to her for saying she was lying.
Attorney Allred said she is currently representing three other women who have said Trump sexually assaulted them. She said all three are willing to testify against him.
Law professor Turley said there are implications that extend from the Zervos case to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the president. He said a Zervos deposition will make it hard for Trump to refuse to interview with Mueller in the future.
“It would be very odd for the president to sit down for a seven-hour deposition on a harassment claim in New York, but refuse to sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation,” he said.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.