Former US President Donald Trump has suffered a legal setback after a federal appeals court ruled that he cannot use his presidential immunity to avoid a defamation lawsuit filed against him by a former Apprentice contestant who accused him of rape. The ruling means that Trump can be sued for defamation in connection with the allegations made by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump’s reality TV show, who claims that he sexually assaulted her in 2007.
Zervos first went public with her allegations during the 2016 US presidential campaign, prompting Trump to deny the allegations and call her a liar. Zervos subsequently filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, arguing that his denials had damaged her reputation and cost her business.
Trump’s legal team sought to have the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that he was protected by presidential immunity, arguing that he could not be sued for actions taken in the course of his official duties as president. However, the appeals court rejected this argument, stating that presidential immunity does not apply to lawsuits related to alleged conduct that occurred before the president took office.
The ruling is a blow to Trump’s legal defense strategy, as he had previously relied on the argument of presidential immunity to fend off lawsuits related to his personal conduct. However, the decision is not the final word on the matter, as Trump’s legal team is expected to appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court.
The Zervos case is just one of several legal battles facing Trump, who is also being investigated by prosecutors in New York for possible financial crimes and has faced multiple lawsuits related to his business dealings and personal conduct. The former president has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has accused his opponents of conducting a politically motivated campaign against him.
The decision by the appeals court also has broader implications for the limits of presidential immunity, which has been a contentious issue in US politics for decades. While the US Constitution provides for immunity for the president in connection with official acts, it is unclear whether this immunity extends to actions taken before or after the president’s term in office.
The ruling is also likely to have implications for future presidents, who may face similar legal challenges related to their personal conduct. Some legal experts have argued that presidential immunity should be limited in order to prevent abuses of power, while others have argued that it is necessary to protect the president’s ability to carry out his or her official duties.
The Zervos case has been closely watched by legal experts and political analysts, who see it as a key test of the limits of presidential immunity and the ability of private citizens to hold the president accountable for his or her actions. The case is expected to continue to generate headlines in the coming months, as it moves forward in the courts.
In conclusion, the ruling by the appeals court represents a significant legal setback for Trump and a victory for Zervos, who will now have the opportunity to pursue her case in court. The decision also has broader implications for the limits of presidential immunity and the ability of private citizens to hold the president accountable for his or her actions. As the case moves forward, it is likely to generate continued attention and debate among legal experts and political observers alike.