Trump Will Be Deposed in José Andrés Lawsuit Before His Inauguration

Andrés would still like to settle.

Photo of José Andrés by Evy Mages

A D.C. Superior Court judge ordered yesterday that Donald Trump must submit to a deposition for up to seven hours in the first week of January in the lawsuit with celebrity José Andrés over their hotel restaurant deal gone sour.

Earlier this month, the Trump team tried to limit the President-elect’s deposition to two hours and wanted to prohibit questions he’d already been asked in a separate lawsuit with chef Geoffrey Zakarian‘s restaurant, which also backed out of the Trump hotel. Duplicative questions would be “harassing, annoying, and oppressive,” they said. They also argued that Trump “has not been involved in this dispute” and has only “limited knowledge” of the facts of the case.

Andrés’ lawyers called the time limit “unreasonable” and an “abuse of discretion.” They added that there is no basis in the law to limit their questions and that it would be unfair to their discovery process.

Judge Jennifer Di Toro ultimately agreed. In her order, she said such limits to the length or scope of Trump’s deposition would inhibit Andrés team’s right to prepare the case for trial. She also rebuffed the idea that Trump has no personal knowledge of the facts at issue, saying his comments are at the heart of the defendants’ counterclaim and that he has “unique personal knowledge” relevant to the case.

Due to “security reasons,” the Trumps also requested that the deposition be conducted in New York.

Andrés’ lawyers countered that it “seems dubious that the President-elect cannot be afforded adequate security in the capital of the United States” but were willing to accommodate the demand. The deposition will take place at Trump Tower.

“Everybody’s trying to postpone and everything, and I’m like, no, I want to finish it. Don’t postpone,” Andrés said last week at his new seafood restaurant at MGM Nation Harbor. “And don’t tell me know you want to do it in New York. You sued me in Washington.”

Andrés said he’d still like to settle with the Trump team. “I want to keep doing my business as normal, and I don’t want to have this. Nobody wants to have this,” he said, later adding, “I don’t want to testify eight hours… I don’t want the president-elect to have to testify—he’s going to have to do it or we change the laws of the land.”

Andrés said he initally tried to split with the Trump hotel on good terms.

“They’re very litigious. It’s crazy. It’s just crazy,” Andrés said. “And they want to prove that they were right. I’m like why don’t we prove that we’re going to respect each other?”

Then on Tuesday, Andrés tweeted at Trump: “Can we end our lawsuits and we donate $ to a Veterans NGO to celebrate? Why keep litigating? Let’s both of us win.”

Whatever the outcome, Andrés seems to be thinking about the lingering effects of the lawsuits: “The day I die I hope it’s not going to be in my RIP.”

That said, would he do anything differently if he could?

“My friends, the people who know me, [they’d say] there’s nothing I’d change. It’s exactly the same thing a hundred times. A million times.”


Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.