A New York appeals court justice said President Donald Trump’s video deposition is on hold in a lawsuit alleging protestors were assaulted outside of Trump Tower.
Justice Dianne Renwick issued a one-page order placing a hold on a decision Friday by New York state Judge Doris Gonzales who ruled that Trump’s video testimony is “indispensable” to the trial, which was set to begin on Thursday. Trump, the judge said, would have to appear for a video deposition saying, “No government official, including the executive, is above the law,” the judge said.
Lawyers for Trump appealed that ruling and an emergency motion was held Tuesday, according to Roger Bernstein, an attorney representing the protesters.
Renwick said the order compelling Trump’s video deposition and the start of the trial would be postponed until the legal issues could be heard by “the full bench” of the appeals court. She set a date for motions to be filed by October 7. The Friday ruling raised the issue of a state level judge being able to compel the president to testify at a civil trial.
The court battle is the latest involving Trump as his lawyers are also fighting subpoenas served to his accountants and bankers for tax records and other financial documents.
The litigation revolves around a 2015 lawsuit filed by five men who describe themselves as “human rights activists of Mexican origin” who were protesting Trump’s rhetoric on immigration in front of Trump Tower in September 2015.
The men allege that Trump’s head of security, Keith Schiller, hit one of the protesters, Efrain Galicia, in the head after Galicia tried to stop Schiller from taking their large cardboard signs, which read, “Trump: Make America Racist Again.” The lawsuit alleges that when Galicia tried to hold onto one of the signs, Schiller ripped it away from him, tearing it to pieces.
When Galicia tried to prevent Schiller from taking another sign, he alleges Schiller hit him with “a closed fist on the head with such force it caused (him) to stumble backwards,” according to the lawsuit.
In his sworn testimony, Schiller claims the protesters and their banners were a threat to public safety because they would have impeded an ambulance from responding to an emergency in the building. Schiller says Galicia grabbed him from behind prompting him to swing around and hit the protester with his “open hand.” Schiller says he believed Galicia was attempting to grab his gun and thus used the “minimal amount of force to get him off of my firearm and off of my body.”
The plaintiffs allege the President had control over his security’s actions because they are his employees, even if Trump himself did not order them to act.
Trump’s lawyers have not returned calls seeking comment.
In a court filing, Trump’s attorneys characterized the plaintiffs’ motivations as political and argued that “Trump did not strike or touch any of the plaintiffs or take plaintiffs’ sign from them. In fact, the President was not even in the vicinity” of the incident outside of Trump Tower.
This story has been updated.