President Donald Trump’s legal team has made a novel argument against charges of defamation, said Bloomberg News on Wednesday, claiming Trump’s refutation of charges he harassed and assaulted multiple women as “campaign speech.”
In 2016, more than a dozen women came forward to say they’d been subject to unwanted sexually advances, groping, inappropriate touching and forcible kissing by Trump.
Summer Zervos — a former contestant on Trump’s reality TV game show “The Apprentice” — sued Trump in January on claims that he defamed her when he denied accusations that he groped her on set.
Trump’s lawyers maintain that the remarks were made in the context of the presidential race and fall under First Amendment protections as campaign speech.
“Ms. Zervos cannot hold the president liable for engaging in political speech in the context of a public debate because such speech is clearly protected by the First Amendment,” said Trump’s legal team in a court filing Tuesday. “Political statements in political contexts are non-actionable political opinion.”
The president’s lawyers claim that Zervos v. Trump is a politically-motivated suit brought when Ms. Zervos was unable to secure a position within the nascent Trump administration.
In October, Zervos’ attorney Gloria Allred subpoenaed “all documents concerning any accusations that were made during Donald J. Trump’s election campaign for president, that he subjected any woman to unwanted sexual touching and/or sexually inappropriate behavior.”