President Trump must testify in a trial over Mexican protesters’ claims they were roughed up by security guards outside Trump Tower in 2015, a Bronx judge ruled Friday.
The ruling comes less than a week before the trial currently scheduled to begin next week. Both sides have agreed Trump does not need to physically take the stand and that a video of him answering questions can be played for the jury.
Trump’s attorneys had argued that absent “exceptional circumstances,” he did not have to testify at trial because of his official duties.
Justice Doris Gonzalez rejected that argument.
“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.
“Put more plainly, no government official, including the Executive, is above the law.”
The judge cited precedent set in a lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant who claims Trump forced himself on her in a Beverly Hills bungalow.
“The court has reaffirmed the principle that no one is above the law,” said attorney Benjamin Dictor, who is representing the protesters.
Efrain Galicia, Florencia Tejeda Perez, Gonzalo Cruz Franco, Miguel Villalobos and Johnny Garcia Rojas claimed that security, including Trump’s then-head of security, Keith Schiller, wrongly assaulted them and took their signs during a lawful protest.
Justice Fernando Tapia previously ruled that Trump should not be excluded from the case.
“(The protesters) presented evidence that illustrates that the close relationship between Trump and Schiller, indicating Trump’s behest guided Schiller’s actions,” Tapia wrote last year.
Trump attorney Lawrence Rosen did not respond to a request for comment.