Donald Trump’s lawyer has claimed his comments about the women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment should not be taken literally.
The argument came in response to a lawsuit brought by former Apprentice candidate Summer Zervos, who is accusing the President of defamation after he said on the campaign trail that she was lying about being groped and kissed by him without consent.
“The allegedly defamatory statements [by Mr Trump] were made during a national political campaign that involved heated public debate in political forums,” lawyer Marc Kasowitz wrote in a 53-page memo.
“Statements made in that context are properly viewed by courts as part of the expected fiery rhetoric, hyperbole and opinion that is squarely protected by the First Amendment.”
Mr Kasowitz is also defending the President for the investigation of his ties to the Russians during the campaign.
Mr Trump denied all accusations from more than a dozen women accusing the now President of sexual assault or harassment.
On the campaign trail, he repeatedly called the women “liars”, “crazy”, “sick” “fame-hungry” and pointed to their physical appearance to suggest they were not attractive enough to receive that kind of behaviour.
“You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so,” he said.
Ms Zervos was the only accuser to file a lawsuit, claiming he aggressively grabbed and kissed her when she went to see him in Beverly Hills about a job opportunity, one year after she appeared on the fifth series of the reality television show.
Mr Kasowitz also argued that the President could not be sued in state court while serving in office, and that Ms Zervos’s allegations were designed to hurt Mr Trump’s campaign. He maintains that the case should be dismissed or delayed.
Ms Zervos’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, said she would seek the President’s testimony under oath during the lawsuit and would also try to obtain outtakes from The Apprentice to showcase his allegedly inappropriate behaviour with women.
Ms Zervos is not suing the President for sexual assault. Ms Zervos decided to pursue her case of defamation after she saw the leaked 2005 Access Hollywood video in which Mr Trump bragged to host Billy Bush about grabbing women’s genitals.
She added she was not seeking monetary compensation, and only wanted to repair her reputation.
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