Judge Orders President Trump to Testify in Lawsuit Over 2015 Protest

FILE- In this Sept. 16, 2019 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks before leaving the White House in Washington. On Friday, Sept. 20 a New York judge ordered the president to give a videotaped deposition in a lawsuit filed by protesters who claim they were roughed up outside Trump Tower in 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

A New York City judge has ordered that President Donald Trump sit for videotaped testimony in a lawsuit brought by protesters who say they were assaulted by Trump’s security guards during the 2016 campaign.

The Bronx-based judge, Doris Gonzalez, wrote that Trump’s testimony is “indispensable” to the trial, which is scheduled to begin Thursday. She wrote he must therefore be examined by videotape before then, though Trump is likely to ask for a delay.

The protesters argue Trump, his campaign and business should be held liable for the actions of security guards who were working for the company. They say, even if Trump didn’t directly order the guards to act, he had control over their actions because they were his employees and his campaign trail rhetoric gave them the impression that violence would be condoned.

The suit alleges Trump’s head of security, Keith Schiller, punched one of the men in the head while trying to grab from him a sign that read, “Make America Racist Again!” Schiller has said he was simply trying to make space on the sidewalk and that he struck the protester only after the man grabbed him suddenly from behind.

Attorneys for Trump did not respond to requests for comment. They can appeal and seek to stay the ruling while their appeals are considered.

The case is one of a number of matters working their way through state and federal courts that will likely test the limits of presidential power. Because it was filed in August 2015 – just two months after Trump declared his candidacy for the presidency – it is more advanced than other matters.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the president can be sued in federal court. The ruling came as President Bill Clinton was being sued by Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, for sexual harassment and, as a result, Clinton was required to sit for a videotaped deposition in the case in 1998. Clinton settled the case and it never went to trial.

Trump, by contrast, has been ordered to offer testimony for use at the New York trial, a rare instance of a jury sitting in judgment of a sitting president.

If the Bronx jury rules that the security guards acted inappropriately and Trump was to blame, they could impose sizable punitive damages on the president.

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Source: LMT Online