A woman who accused President Donald Trump of unwanted groping has subpoenaed all documents held by his presidential campaign about any harassment and assault allegations against him, BuzzFeed News reported Saturday.
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice” and one of many women who came forward during the campaign to accuse Trump of harassment or assault, initiated the subpoena as part of her lawsuit against the president for defamation. Zervos decided to sue Trump in January months after the then-presidential candidate denied the allegation and dismissed all of his accusers as liars.
In her bid to establish that Trump “defamed” her, Zervos’s subpoena aims to prove how Trump deliberately tried to discredit her and the other accusers.
The subpoena, which is liable to renew public attention on the numerous allegations against Trump, sets the stage for another legal and political headache for the president.
Zervos’ subpoena requires him to turn over all documents “concerning any accusations that were made during Donald J. Trump’s election campaign for president, that he subjected any woman to unwanted sexual touching and/or sexually inappropriate behavior.” The order would cover documents about Zervos, as well as other women who accused Trump of groping, including, but not limited to, Jessica Leeds, Mindy McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Temple Taggart, Kristin Anderson, Cathy Heller, Jill Harth, and Jessica Drake.
Zervos’ legal team, which includes nationally renowned women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, issued the subpoena in March, but it only entered the court record in September.
Trump’s attorneys tried to get the suit dismissed in March on the grounds that the president is immune from being sued while in office. They also tried to dismiss the subpoena in July, arguing that it “seeks wholly irrelevant information intended solely to harass the president.”
During Trump’s campaign, he vowed to sue the women who accused him of assault and harassment, but he has not followed through on the promise.
The subpoena comes to light at a moment of heightened public sensitivity to the impunity given to many powerful men allowing them to sexually harass and assault women. Famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was fired by the company he founded and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after the New York Times reported earlier this month that Weinstein had settled numerous accusations of sexual harassment out of court. The report prompted a flood of additional allegations against Weinstein, including claims that he physically assaulted women and forced them to perform sex acts.
The allegations against Weinstein bear an eerie resemblance to the accounts of many Trump accusers.
At least 16 women have publicly accused Trump of forcibly attempting to kiss, grope and have sex with them. Many of those women came forward in October 2016 following the leaked 2005 video of Trump bragging to “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush that he freely touches women without their consent, infamously stating that he can “grab them by the pussy.”
Zervos said that in 2007 Trump summoned her to meet about professional matters on several occasions and then kissed, groped and humped her against her will.