World

New York court denies bid by Trump to dismiss woman's defamation suit

NEW YORK US President Donald Trump faced legal challenges from women on two fronts as a defamation lawsuit brought by a former Apprentice TV show contestant moved forward and a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Mr Trump sued to undo a confidentiality agreement.

A New York state judge on Tuesday denied a bid by Mr Trump to toss out a defamation lawsuit by Ms Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice", raising the prospect that he might have to answer questions about his behaviour in court.

Justice Jennifer Schecter rejected Mr Trump's claim that he was immune from being sued, finding "absolutely no authority" to dismiss litigation related "purely to unofficial conduct" solely because he occupied the White House.

"No one is above the law," the judge wrote in her ruling.

Playboy model Karen McDougal sued a media company that she said paid her US$150,000 (S$197,500) to keep quiet about an affair that she said she had with Mr Trump.

The lawsuit was the second time this month that a woman challenged legal arrangements to prevent discussions about affairs women said they had with Mr Trump.

Both involved payments that legal experts have said could equate to in-kind contributions to Mr Trump's campaign in violation of federal election laws.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ms Zervos said Mr Trump kissed her against her will at a 2007 meeting in his New York office, and later groped her in a Beverly Hills hotel at a meeting about a possible job.

Mr John Diamond, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, said Mr Trump would have to testify under oath if he has to defend himself.

Ms McDougal said American Media, publisher of the National Enquirer, paid her US$150,000 in 2016 for the rights to her story that she had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006 and 2007 and then never published it.

- REUTERS

WORLD