Gloria Allred, the prominent women’s rights attorney who represented former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos in her high-profile defamation suit against President Trump, is withdrawing from the case.
In a statement Friday, Zervos said it was her decision to end the legal relationship. “I decided to part ways with Gloria Allred purely for personal reasons,” she said, “having nothing to do with her work as my attorney.”
Mariann Meier Wang, Allred’s New York-based co-counsel, will continue to represent Zervos.
The shake-up is the latest twist in a saga that Zervos said began in 2007, when she alleges Trump groped her at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Trump called Zervos and his other accusers “liars,” and in January 2017 Zervos filed a defamation suit against him. She retained the services of Allred, who now represents other women with cases against Trump.
Allred issued a statement Thursday to the Associated Press saying her withdrawal has “nothing to do with the merits of her case against President Trump.” She declined to comment further to The Washington Post, writing only in an email that she continues “to represent 3 other Trump accusers including Jessica Drake,” a porn star who accused Trump of sexual misconduct.
Zervos was one of several women to come forward with allegations in the run-up to the 2016 election.
Trump has denied Zervos’s account. “To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago,” he said after she made her accusation.
The president’s attorneys attempted to dismiss or stay the case, arguing among other things that a state court does not have jurisdiction over a sitting president. Wang made oral arguments on Zervos’s behalf in a Manhattan courtroom in December. Last week, New York Supreme Court Judge Jennifer Schecter ruled that the case could proceed, writing, “No one is above the law.”
Zervos’s accusations came to light in a news conference with Allred in October 2016 that surprised some people who knew Zervos well and said she had long been a fan of Trump.
“I feel like she considered him a mentor, possibly a friend,” said Amanda Hesser, who worked at Zervos’s family restaurant in Huntington Beach, Calif.