President-elect Donald Trump is scheduled to testify under oath at Trump Tower in January, just weeks before the inauguration, in lawsuits tied to his Washington D.C. hotel. His lawyers are battling over special conditions Trump is seeking because of his new position.
The deposition is tied to Trumps $10 million lawsuit in the District of Columbia against Topo Atrio, the restaurant that was to be run by celebrity chef José Andrés in the hotel Trump has developed in the Old Post Office building just down the street from the White House. Andrés and the company cancelled the deal after Trump’s presidential campaign announcement in June 2015, saying the candidates rhetoric was “widely perceived as anti-Hispanic.” Trump sued Andrés and another famed chef who made a similar decision, citing breach of their contracts.
The parties in the 2015 lawsuit had previously agreed that the upcoming deposition would be held the first week of January in Washington. Last week, however, Trump’s attorney’s emailed the restaurant group saying that they disagreed with the length of the deposition — up to seven hours — as well as that the questions that could overlap with a previous deposition. Trumps team also objected to the location in Washington.
Trump’s attorneys argue the deposition needs to take place at Trump Tower in New York City, for “security reasons" in their request to the opposing lawyers. Monday, Trumps top lawyer also cited cost and convenience for the President-elect.
While the restaurant group agreed to relocate the deposition in a filing last week, they protested about the time and topic limits.
“It seems dubious that the President-elect cannot be afforded adequate security in the capital of the United States, but Defendants are willing to accommodate that demand,” Andrés’ attorneys wrote to D.C. Superior Judge Jennifer A. Di Toro. “Defendants cannot, however, accept Trump LLC’s attempt to hamstring Defendants’ questioning of the man who directed the bringing of this lawsuit.”
Given the deposition is just weeks away, the restaurant group asked a D.C. judge for an expedited decision requiring Trump comply with the deposition rules.
“We think the deposition is completely unnecessary. We don’t think there’s any factual dispute that requires the President-elect’s testimony, so we think it’s unneeded,” said Alan Garten, general counsel for Trump and his business interests. “So we asked for there to be some reasonable limits. We don’t think it’s necessary, the issues that concern the President-elect are statements he made at the commencement of the campaign. There’s no dispute about them. So we don’t see what a deposition would accomplish.”