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Judge says Trump could be fired in the lawsuit of the former ‘Apprentice’ contestant

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A judge in the state of New York on Monday gave former US President Donald Trump a deadline of December 23 to undergo interrogation in a defamation lawsuit filed by a former participant in “The Apprentice” made after he denied her allegations of sexual assault.

Judge Jennifer Schecter of the New York State Court in Manhattan said Trump should submit to a deposition, after his lawyer said Trump intends to suppress his prosecutor, Summer Zervos, against the state law, under a state law that says aimed at encouraging free speech.

Schecter ruled after a conference where the planned counterattack was announced, and lawyers for Trump and Zervos accused their opponents of stopping.

“He just can not postpone this case any longer,” Zervos’ lawyer Moira Penza said at the conference.

Zervos sued Trump in January 2017, but the case remains partially unresolved because Trump argued in the White House that a sitting president could not be sued.

The issue grew after Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, making Trump a private citizen, the New York Supreme Court has ruled March.

In a statement, Trump’s new lawyer, Alina Habba, said the trial court had made its position clear today. Zervos must comply with the court’s order and make all relevant and outstanding discoveries. In the meantime, we will vigorously defend the President against this frivolous lawsuit. ”

Lawyers from Zervos were not immediately available for comment. Any deposition of Zervos must also take place by 23 December.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Zervos accused Trump of subjecting her to unwanted kissing and grabbing when she sought career advice in 2007, two years after her appearance on his reality television program.

She sued Trump after calling such allegations by women ‘lies’ and retweeting a post in a different way calling Zervos’ allegations’ fraud’.

Zervos demanded a withdrawal or apology, plus compensatory and punitive damages. Trump denied Zervos’ allegations, calling her case politically motivated.

Habba said Trump would file a counterclaim under New York’s New Anti-SLAPP Act, which is intended to prevent lawsuits from punishing or harassing defendants for talking about public affairs, and was in November last year expanded to cover more speeches.

SLAPP stands for “Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation.”

Former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll also sues Trump for libel, after denying raping her in a Manhattan mall in the mid-1990s.

Trump denied blaming Carroll, and resisted giving a deposition or providing DNA evidence. He also denied allegations by several other women of improper sexual behavior.

(Report by Jonathan Stempel in New York; edited by Dan Grebler)

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