Five men say they were assaulted by Trump’s private security chief during a 2015 protest.
A New York judge has ordered U.S. President Donald Trump to provide testimony as part of an impending lawsuit brought by protesters harmed outside of Trump Tower in 2015.
According to CNN, the decision was made by Judge Doris M. Gonzalez. In her ruling, Gonzalez called Trump’s testimony “indispensable” to the trial and its outcome. Although the president wouldn’t be required to appear in person, who’ll be required to call in via video link.
The case, says CNN, centers around a protest which took place in 2015. Participants gathered around Trump Tower in New York City, with two wearing ‘parody’ Ku Klux Klan outfits. The white robes and hoods were a reference to Trump’s controversial statements on illegal immigrants, which have been called prejudicial.
Five men, all of whom call themselves “human rights activists,” filed the suit. They say that Trump’s head of security, Keith Schiller, hit protester Efrain Galicia in the head.
Schiller, says CNN, was trying to seize protesters’ cardboard signs and slogans, some of which read, “Trump: Make America Racist Again.”
Schiller allegedly tried to take signs from a number of protesters, ripping Galicia’s into pieces. When Schiller moved to take another, Galicia intervened.
However, Schiller retaliated, hitting Galicia “with such force it caused [him] to stumble backwards.”
Galicia claims his reaction was justified, as there’s a possibility protesters could’ve impeded emergency services from reaching Trump Tower. Furthermore, Schiller says characterizing his intervention as an assault is outrageous, and that’d he simply hit Galicia with an “open hand”—purportedly because he was afraid that Galicia was making a move for his firearm.
“I instinctively reacted by turning around […] and striking the person with my open hand,” Schiller said, noting that Trump was inside the tower and away from the protest.
Ever since its inception, Trump and his attorneys have been fighting off the lawsuit. Private lawyers and Justice Department attorney shave, in numerous other cases, claimed that a sitting U.S. president cannot be indicted, investigated or otherwise implicated in a criminal case.
In her ruling, Gonzalez noted that the Trump’s argument—that only “exceptional circumstances” can compel a high-ranking government official to testify—are inapplicable, as the alleged misconduct occurred before Trump took the Oval Office.
Gonzalez, though, has challenged that narrative.
“No government official, including the executive, is above the law,” she wrote. “President Trump’s relationship with the other defendants is now central to plaintiffs’ prosecution of their claims under the theory of respondeat superior. As such, his testimony is indispensable.”
The trial is expected to begin Thursday.