POLITICS

SCOTUS Has Already Answered the Question: Can Donald Trump Be Sued for Defamation?


Donald Trump is currently trying to eschew a lawsuit brought forth by Summer Zervos, a former Apprentice contestant who has accused Trump of sexual misconduct. She alleges that two separate incidents occurred: that Trump kissed her on the mouth in New York, and that he kissed and groped her in a California hotel room during a business meeting. Zervos maintains that she did not consent to any of the contact in question.

After Trump ridiculed her sexual misconduct allegations and suggested she’d fabricated her whole story, Ms. Zervos  filed a defamation suit against him. Donald Trump’s lawyer, however, has argued in legal filings that the president is immune to lawsuits. But thanks to the husband of presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, Trump is probably going to lose that argument.

Twenty years ago, the Supreme Court handed down a 9-0 decision that a sitting president could be sued, by allowing Paula Jones to pursue her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton. George T. Conway III, Kellyanne’s husband, can claim considerable credit for that Supreme Court victory as the Republican lawyer drew scrutiny to the case by penning a blistering op-ed for the Los Angeles Times in which he argued that President Clinton was relying on dubious legal arguments. “In a case involving his private conduct, a President should be treated like any private citizen,” he wrote. “The rule of law requires no more—and no less.”

Mr. Conway went on to cite an argument used during the Nixon case:

“No man in this country is so high that he is above the law. No officer of the law may set that law at defiance with impunity. All officers of the government, from the highest to the lowest, are creatures of the law and are bound to obey it. . . . Incumbency does not relieve the President of the routine legal obligations that confine all citizens.” 

That is really going to sting Trump as it seems he thought himself so high that he was above the law… way before he even became president.


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