State Supreme Court Justice Doris Gonzalez ordered Trump to “appear for a videotaped deposition prior to the trial.”
The trial, which involves a group of protesters who allege they were assaulted by Trump’s security guards outside Trump Tower during a 2015 protest over the then-candidate’s comments about Mexican immigrants — some of which was caught on video — is slated to begin on Thursday, Sept. 26.
The judge rejected the argument of Trump’s attorneys that he should not have to testify because of his duties as president.
Lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization, which is also a defendant in the case, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Attorney Benjamin Dictor, who’s representing the plaintiffs, said: “The decision is not surprising. It may be newsworthy, but it’s not surprising. No one is above the law, including the president of the United States.”
The ruling says Trump’s testimony is “indispensable” to the case, since the protesters charge that the bodyguards were working on Trump’s behalf.
The judge stopped short of ordering the president to take the witness stand in the Bronx, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a civil case involving sexual harassment allegations against then-President Bill Clinton. That ruling said the testimony of president “may be taken at the White House at a time that will accommodate his busy schedule,” and “there would be no necessity for the president to attend in person, though he could elect to do so.”
Gonzalez also cited a more recent ruling in a New York case, where Trump was ordered to sit for a deposition in adefamation case brought against him by a former “Apprentice” contestant, Summer Zervos.
After the ruling was handed down, Dictor sent Trump attorney Lawrence Rosen a letter asking that he “advise what date, time and location will be made available to appear” to testify. He said he had yet to hear back.