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Trump Deposed In Legal Battle Against Chef José Andrés

— January 6, 2017

In a little over two weeks from now, President-elect Donald Trump will officially become our next President. However, his new position as our Commander-in-Chief won’t slow down the handful of lawsuits he’s dealing with on the side, such as the one he’s tangled in right now with D.C. restaurateur and celebrity chef, José Andrés.

The drama between Trump and Andrés began way back in 2015 when Trump was merely a presidential candidate. At the time, Andrés was planning on opening a flagship restaurant in Trump’s new hotel. However, as we all know, Trump said many negative comments while on the campaign trail, including some about Mexican immigrants. On one instance, Trump claimed that some immigrants from Mexico are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

As a result, Andrés decided to step back from his and Trump’s agreement, saying

“Donald Trump’s recent statements disparaging immigrants make it impossible for my company and I to move forward with opening a successful Spanish restaurant in Trump International’s upcoming hotel in Washington, D.C. More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.”

In retaliation, Trump filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the chef. According to Trump’s general counsel, Alan Garten, “the parties entered into a valid and enforceable lease, which the tenant clearly breached by walking out and failing to perform its obligations, thereby entitling the landlord to recover damages in the form of unpaid rent, cost of build out, lost profits and other expenses.”

Ever since the lawsuit was filed back in July, the two sides have been engaged in settlement talks, until recently. With only two weeks from the inauguration, Trump sat for a videotaped deposition where he answered questions, under oath, in connection with the lawsuit he filed against Andrés. The Trump team was originally trying to avoid a deposition, and his lawyers even went so far as to argue that Trump was “extremely busy handling matters of very significant public importance.” Unfortunately for Trump, the judge in the case ordered him to show up for the deposition by week’s end.

As for Andrés, it would seem he simply wants the legal dispute to come to an end. In fact, in a tweet on December 13, he suggested the two end their dispute and donate money to a veteran’s organization instead. In another recent tweet on January 5, Andrés reached out to Trump again to try and settle the dispute.

Trump and Zakarian; Image by John Moore,
Trump and Zakarian; Image by John Moore,

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only lawsuit Trump is engaged in prior to his inauguration. He’s also currently preparing for trial in a case he filed against another celebrity chef, Geoffrey Zakarian. In fact, the two cases are extremely similar. Zakarian also pulled out of plans to start a restaurant in Trump’s hotel due to the president-elect’s comments about Mexican immigrants.

It will certainly be interesting to see how everything plays out in the coming weeks and months. We can only hope that Trump’s business dealings and lawsuits won’t impact his role as the Leader of the Free World.


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