Courts to Trump: You’re Not Above the Law
Plus: The Anti-Israel Left Hits a New Low with Rape Denialism
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JUSTIN FLORENCE AND GENEVIEVE NADEAU: Courts to Trump Again and Again: You’re Not Above the Law.
THREE DAYS BEFORE DONALD TRUMP’S inauguration in January 2017, a former reality-show contestant named Summer Zervos filed a lawsuit in New York state court. During the 2016 presidential campaign, she had accused Trump of having sexually assaulted her on the set of The Apprentice back in 2007. Trump called her a liar and she sued him for defamation. This case was notable not just as a claim that the president had engaged in sexual assault but also for what happened next: Trump argued that he was immune from the suit because, even though the alleged conduct took place before he was president, his winning the office shielded him from being sued.
What was odd about Trump’s argument—other than its extreme claim—is that the U.S. Supreme Court had largely resolved this question unanimously during the Clinton administration. It rejected a similar claim by President Bill Clinton that Paula Jones’s lawsuit had to wait until he was out of office, holding that “the President, like other officials, is subject to the same laws that apply to all citizens.”
But that didn’t stop Trump, who argued that Zervos’s case was different because, unlike Paula Jones, she filed in state rather than federal court.
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THE LAST FEW DAYS have seen a troubling turn in the public discussion of one aspect of the October 7 attack on Israel: the reports of acts of sexual violence committed by Hamas, reports that some commentators on the left have denied or dismissed.
On Sunday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, responded to questions from CNN’s Dana Bash about the tepid condemnation of sexual atrocities toward Israeli women by deflecting to everything from the war in Iraq to alleged Israeli war crimes while couching her own condemnation in such sanitized terms as “what Hamas has done” until specifically pushed by Bash on the question of rape. Facing widespread criticism, Jayapal released a statement two days later clarifying her remarks and saying she “unequivocally condemn[s]” Hamas’s “use of rape and sexual violence as an act of war.”
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