Appeals judge delays trial that triggered order for Trump’s testimony

A looming legal showdown over a judge’s order requiring President Donald Trump to give videotaped testimony in a suit brought by anti-Trump protesters has been delayed after an appellate judge postponed the trial in the case, which had been scheduled to go to jury selection in New York on Thursday.

Acting on an appeal filed Tuesday by Trump’s attorneys, New York Supreme Court Appellate Division Justice Dianne Renwick put off the trial so that the dispute over Trump’s testimony could be resolved.

A written order detailing Renwick’s ruling did not explain her rationale but said that both the order for Trump to give a videotaped deposition and the start of the trial itself were stayed pending further action by the “full bench” of the state court appellate panel on which she sits.

The suit stems from a 2015 demonstration outside Trump Tower in Manhattan over anti-Mexican comments by then-candidate Trump. Five men of Mexican origin claimed that Trump security personnel, including his longtime aide Keith Schiller, assaulted them and wrestled away their signs in a bid to break up the protest.

A judge rejected an early bid to force Trump to testify in the case, but last Friday, the latest judge assigned to the suit ruled that Trump’s testimony was needed for the trial.

Bronx Supreme Court Justice Doris Gonzalez said legal precedent required her to uphold the subpoena for a sworn account by Trump of his control over the personnel who engaged in the fracas.

“More than 200 years ago our founders sought to escape an oppressive, tyrannical governance in which absolute power vested with a monarch. A fear of the recurrence of tyranny birthed our three-branch government adorned with checks and balances,” Gonzalez wrote in her ruling. “No government official, including the Executive, is above the law.”

Trump’s defense against the protesters’ suit was being handled by Lawrence Rosen from the Manhattan-based firm LaRocca, Hornik, Rosen and Greenberg. However, another longtime lawyer for Trump, Marc Kasowitz of Manhattan-based Kasowitz, Benson, Torres jumped in Tuesday to handle the urgent appeal.

Trump’s main argument against the deposition is that state court judges lack the legal authority to force a sitting president to testify and may not show the proper deference to a president’s other critical duties.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine


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