Everything You Need To Know About That Defamation Lawsuit Against Donald Trump

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President-elect Donald Trump's legal issues are far from over: The latest lawsuit against him is connected to the sexual assault allegations that made waves last fall.

In October, in the middle of the 2016 election cycle, a dozen women accused Trump of sexual assault or sexual misconduct. Many of them, including former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, came forward after an Access Hollywood tape showing Trump making lewd comments was made public. But the President-elect categorically denied all the claims, calling them "a total fabrication," and threatening to sue the accusers.

"The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over," he said during a rally last October.

Trump hasn't sued his accusers, and it's unclear whether he will ever move ahead with the lawsuits.

In a press conference right after the election
, Zervos asked the president-elect to rescind his statements calling her and the other women "liars," and to withdraw his threat to sue them.

That hasn't happened, either. So on Tuesday, Zervos became the first accuser to file a lawsuit in New York for defamation and emotional distress. What will that mean for the president-elect? Glad you asked.

Ahead, we break down everything you need to know about the lawsuit and whether it could impact the Trump presidency.

First of all, can you sue the president?


Yes. The Supreme Court ruled in the 1990s that presidents can be sued while they're in office in relation to their private conduct or incidents that occurred prior to their being elected.
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What are the details of this particular lawsuit?


According to Zervos' attorney Gloria Allred, her client is only looking for a retraction and has no interest in receiving any type of monetary compensation from the Trump camp.

Zervos said she would drop the suit if Trump were to "simply retract his false and defamatory statements about me and acknowledge I told the truth about him."

The former Apprentice contestant alleged in the lawsuit that Trump's response to her accusations in October caused her emotional distress and hurt her restaurant's business.

She also said that the President-elect knew his statements were defamatory not only because of their alleged interaction in 2007, but also because "he engaged regularly in this kind of unwanted sexual touching for years, and that was, in fact, how he treated women routinely and how he lived his life."

Trump's spokeswoman Hope Hicks told NBC News, "More of the same from Gloria Allred. There is no truth to this absurd story."

Will it affect the presidential inauguration in any way?


That's highly unlikely. The inauguration is moving forward as planned. And other than Hicks' statement about the lawsuit, neither the Trump camp nor the other parties involved have offered any additional comment about the case.

What happens next?


If Trump retracts his statements and validates Zervos' story, Allred says the lawsuit would be dropped. If not, most litigation processes take a long time, so it could be years before the lawsuit even makes its way to trial.

What is clear is that if Trump decides to move ahead, he would have to be deposed under oath. If he lies under oath, and proof comes out, or if other inappropriate things surface during the discovery process, that could be grounds for Congress to impeach him.


Wow, so could Trump actually be impeached?


It's a long shot, but not impossible. A president has to be accused of at least one of the following: "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." If it was proven that Trump sexually assaulted women in some form, that could qualify as grounds for impeachment.

The impeachment process begins with a vote in the House of Representatives, but in order for the president to be removed from office, they have to be convicted by a majority vote in both chambers of Congress. That's why even if Trump is impeached by the House of Representatives, it wouldn't necessarily mean that he would have to step down from the presidency. When President Bill Clinton was impeached at the House level in the late 1990s, the Senate failed to obtain the two-thirds majority vote needed to remove him from office.

The catch-22 of Zervos' lawsuit is that if Trump admits she was telling the truth, he would be admitting to sexual misconduct. If he doesn't, he opens himself to the process of discovery, and some may argue he wouldn't feel comfortable with that.
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