A woman who accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment is filing a lawsuit, claiming he defamed her while campaigning for the nation’s highest political office.
In a year that’s seen the dismissal and firing of powerful men for misconduct, the allegations against Donald Trump have been largely ignored since his inauguration.
Despite scandals bringing down moguls like Harvey Weinstein and television talk-show host Bill O’Reilly, the voices of women purportedly victimized by Trump have largely been silenced.
“With Trump, it was all brushed under the rug,” said Temple Taggart, who claims that Donald Trump forcibly kissed her on the mouth when she was a competitor in the 1997 Miss USA pageant.
Now, The New York Times reports, a former Apprentice contestant is seeking to right an old wrong.
Summer Zervos, who competed on the president’s reality TV show, says that Trump molested her on more than one occasion.
In 2007, she says she was kissed and groped by the businessman without her consent – the incidents purportedly took place in New York and Los Angeles. The claim was quickly dismissed by then-candidate Trump, who said the accusations were “lies and nonsense.”
Responding to women like Taggart and Zervos, Trump presented himself as the victim of a defamation conspiracy spearheaded by presidential contender Hillary Clinton.
Not surprisingly, President Trump has tried to have the suit dismissed. His legal team has suggested that a sitting president can’t be sued in state court, and that his comments against Taggart and Zervos amounted to political speech rather than targeted attempts to defame and slander.
The Times reports that some of Trump’s other purported victims say they’d embrace the opportunity to speak at a court deposition.
Jessica Leeds, who says the billionaire molested her in an airplane, would relish the opportunity to give her testimony.
“I would do it – I’m not afraid,” said Leeds.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump dismissed the woman’s claims by implying that she wasn’t attractive enough to have caught his eye. “Believe me,” Trump said, “she wouldn’t be my first choice.”
Asked about a subpoena last month, the Times reports that Trump said all of the claims were “totally fake news.”
“It’s made-up stuff, it’s disgraceful, what happens,” he said. “But that happens in the world of politics.”
During his campaign, about a dozen women came forward saying they’d been molested or harassed by Donald Trump in circumstances ranging from professional environments to more personal meetings.
The claims were spurred by the release of an “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Donald Trump could be heard explaining how his wealth and power enables him to make moves on women without their consent.
One of his utterances – “grab them by the pussy” – became a rallying cry for feminists opposed to a possible Trump presidency.