What is Trump’s D.C. hotel lawsuit? The president-elect will testify weeks before inauguration
Inauguration Day is rapidly approaching, but prior to being sworn into office, President-elect Donald Trump will soon be required to tend to a couple other matters. As USA Today notes, Trump will become president with at least 75 pending civil lawsuits, quite a few of which involve complaints of discrimination and harassment by employees. But just weeks ahead of inauguration, at the beginning of January specifically, Trump faces lawsuits over his D.C. hotel.
Trump will face lawyers’ questions during a deposition in the $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit that Trump himself filed against Washington-based celebrity chef José Andrés. Andrés’ restaurant, Topo Atrio, was slated to open in Trump’s luxury hotel complex located in the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue, a short distance from the White House. But, Andrés pulled out of the deal following Trump’s blatantly racist presidential campaign announcement speech in June 2015, which Andrés pointed out was “widely perceived as anti-Hispanic.”
Last week, there was conflict between the two parties over the location, duration, and questions that would be asked of Trump, with Andrés and his lawyers seeking to hold the deposition in Washington, while Trump demanded it be held at Trump Tower in New York “for security reasons.” Trump additionally objected to the seven-hour length of the deposition, asking instead for two hours, and arguing that the questions Trump is asked should not overlap with a previous deposition.
Andrés and his lawyers have since conceded to Trump and agreed to move the deposition to Trump Tower, but remain adamant about the deposition length and questions that will be asked. “Defendants cannot, however, accept Trump LLC’s attempt to hamstring Defendants’ questioning of the man who directed the bringing of this lawsuit,” Andrés’ attorneys wrote to D.C. Superior Judge Jennifer A. Di Toro.
Trump is additionally involved in a similar lawsuit against Geoffrey Zakarian, another celebrity chef who was slated to open a restaurant in Trump’s Washington hotel but backed out amidst controversy over Trump’s bigoted rhetoric. Zakarian’s attorneys set a hearing date for Jan. 3 in the D.C. Superior Court.
As a friendly reminder, in his presidential campaign announcement speech, Trump claimed Mexican immigrants were bringing crime, drugs, murder, and rape to the U.S., and he’s hardly been apologetic. Trump’s general counsel, Alan Garten, shrugged off the statements, saying in a statement offered to USA Today, “There’s no dispute about them. So we don’t see what a deposition would accomplish.”
“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,” Garten explained. “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.”
Again, Trump has more than 75 pending civil lawsuits against him, and will not only be the first president who goes into office involved in this many legal entanglements, but also the first who will be confronted with these lawsuits just weeks ahead of being inaugurated.