MANHATTAN (CN) — A judge has refused to delay a lawsuit by famed New York columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says President Donald Trump raped her decades ago when he was a private citizen.
With a heavy focus on the recent Supreme Court decision finding that the president does not enjoy absolute immunity from state criminal investigations, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Verna Saunders rejected Trump’s plea for special treatment.
“In Trump v Vance, the U.S. Supreme Court held that ‘Article II and the Supremacy Clause do not categorically preclude, or require a heightened standard for, the issuance of a state criminal subpoena to a sitting President,’” Saunders wrote in a 4-page ruling released late Thursday.
Carroll’s lawsuit seeks civil damages for defamation, saying Trump stained her reputation by denying that he sexually assaulted her some 25 years earlier inside a dressing room at the department store Bergdorf Goodman. Her attorneys have requested that Trump provide a DNA sample to see whether his genetic material is on the dress Carroll said that she wore during the incident.
“Our client E. Jean Carroll is delighted that Judge Saunders, recognizing the clear import of the Supreme Court’s decision in Vance, has rejected President Trump’s assertion of absolute immunity and has denied his motion to stay her case,” Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan said in an email. “E. Jean is now eager to move forward with discovery so that she can prove that Donald Trump defamed her when he lied about her in connection with her brave decision to tell the truth about the fact that Donald Trump had sexually assaulted her.”
Simultaneously trying to fend off civil litigation and a criminal investigation over his financial dealings in Manhattan, Trump has invoked the privileges of the presidency, and courts both high and low have rejected those claims in turn.
“While the Vance court’s decision permits the issuance of a criminal subpoena to a sitting president, its analysis and conclusions address the same issues and questions raised by defendant in this action, as well as, the Zervos action: whether the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution bars a state court from exercising jurisdiction over a sitting President of the United States during his term,” Saunders wrote.
“No, it does not,” she answered.
Like Carroll, former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos is among the dozens of women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct since the 1970s. Zervos, who claims that Trump kissed her and groped her breast without consent, sued the president for calling her allegations a “total fabrication.”
In advancing the Zervos case, another state court judge wrote in 2018: “No one is above the law.”
That decision relied upon another Supreme Court precedent involving allegations of sexual misdeeds by President Bill Clinton, whose sexual harassment allegations by Paula Jones paved the way for his impeachment.
Justice Saunders noted that the concept of every man’s justice hearkens back long before any modern president.
“Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our court established that no citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding,” Saunders wrote, quoting the Supreme Court’s recent Vance ruling.
The judge affirmed that this concept applies today.
“This court construes the holding in Vance applicable to all state court proceedings in which a sitting president is involved, including those involving his or her unofficial/personal conduct,” she wrote.
Trump’s attorney Christine Montenegro did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.