University of Arizona Law’s David Marcus recently spoke to Vox news regarding the defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice who accused President Donald Trump of sexual assault and was then called a liar by Trump when she spoke out about it in 2016.
Trump tried to block the suit from going forward, but a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that the case may proceed.
Marcus, who is currently teaching the class, “Presidential Power and Its Limits,” with Professor Toni Massaro, said the Trump team will likely appeal the case all the way up to the Supreme Court if it’s not dismissed before then. He compared the case to Paula Jones’s sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton.
From the Vox article:
“The whole strategy during the first few years of the Jones case, as far as Bill Clinton was concerned, was to try to keep the case stalled until after the reelection campaign,” Marcus said.
What Clinton was trying to avoid during his first term as president, says Marcus, was discovery, the process by which lawyers seek information from the opposing parties before trial to build their case. If the case makes it to the discovery phase, Zervos’s lawyers will be able to request memos, emails, and other documents from the Trump campaign to see if Trump was telling the truth about his conduct with Zervos, Marcus said.
The article continues later on:
Impeachment isn’t the only negative consequence Trump could face if damaging information about his history with women makes it into the public domain.
A strength of litigation, Marcus said, is that “people can’t spin anything — they have to answer truthfully.” He mentioned the trial of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice chair of Trump’s voter fraud commission — a trial that, according to Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, revealed that Kobach’s “quest to boot thousands of voters off the rolls was a lawless farce.”
If Zervos’s lawsuit gets to discovery and her lawyers can find no evidence of misconduct by Trump, “the president’s supporters would be able to use that to great effect,” Marcus said. On the other hand, if Trump were forced to admit to sexual assault or other misconduct, “then we finally would get some conclusive, hard-to-spin evidence coming out about a lot of the allegations he’s thus far been able to fob off.”
“A lot of people already have their opinions about the president and his propensity for this kind of behavior,” Marcus said. “But generated in the truth-telling process of litigation, I think this information might have particular credibility.”