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Former President Donald Trump now has a December 23 deadline for questioning a former “Apprentice” contestant in a defamation lawsuit he called in his denial of sexual assault allegations, a court said Monday.

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The new deadline for Trump’s statement — a legal term for out-of-court, pre-trial inquiries under oath — comes as the 2017 trial of Summer Zervos comes from a more than a year-long freeze. Comes out.

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“The defendant is now a private citizen, and he cannot delay this trial any longer,” Zervos attorney Moira Penza told the Manhattan judge’s law clerk during the teleconference.

Then-President Trump was weeks away from the January 2020 statement deadline, when he asked New York’s top court to consider stalling the case altogether until he was out of office. He argued that incumbent presidents could not be prosecuted in state courts.

After he stepped down this year, the state high court – called the Court of Appeal – said the question was controversial. The case returned to Manhattan Trial Court for both parties to continue collecting evidence.

Deposits from both Trump and Zervos are now due as of December 23. His lawyers have two weeks to decide on specific dates, or the court will set them.

Zervos, a California restaurant owner, appeared in “The Apprentice” in 2006. Trump was the host then.

A decade later, she was the Republican presidential nominee, and she was among a series of women who publicly accused her of sexual assault or harassment years earlier. Zervos said he subjected her to unwanted kisses and groping during a career-advising meeting in 2007 at his New York office and a hotel in California where he was staying.

He denied his allegations, retweeted a message that called his claims “a hoax” and described the women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment, his 2016 campaign as “false”. Trying to hurt his chances.

Zervos sued, saying it had hurt his reputation. She is seeking a refund, an apology and unspecified damages.

Mark Kasowitz, a former Trump lawyer, called Zervos’ claims unfounded and said Trump’s statements were true and protected by free speech rights.

Trump’s new lawyer, Alina Habba, said Monday that she plans to detail the former president’s response to the case. She said she plans to draw on a 2020 New York law to protect people from frivolous lawsuits launched by the powerful to quell criticism.

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The law expanded an existing statute to make it easier to fight defamation claims when they focused on “public communication with respect to an issue of public interest,” on any subject other than an entirely private matter. defined as “.

Trump has previously raised some similar California law amid his defenses in Zervos’ lawsuit. Still, Habba said adopting New York’s law would make a difference.

“With the new law, I think this case will be over very quickly,” she said after the court.

When the measure was making its way through the state legislature last year, one sponsor pointed to Trump himself as an argument.

“For decades, Donald Trump, his billionaire friends, large corporations and other powerful forces have abused our legal system by attempting to harass, intimidate and impoverish our critics with strategic lawsuits against public participation,” Democrats state. Sen. Brad Hoyleman said in July. 2020 statement.

Trump and his campaign have sued several media outlets over their coverage, including last month he filed a lawsuit against his estranged niece and The New York Times in a 2018 story about her family’s estate and tax practices. Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhodes Ha called it an “attempt to silence independent news organizations”.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they have come out in public as Zervos has done.