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Trump inauguration clouded by lawsuit with Spanish chef José Andrés

Judge says busy schedule no excuse as president-elect forced to testify in contract case

In the countdown to his January inauguration as US President, Donald Trump will be deposed in his legal dispute against Spanish celebrity chef José Andrés, who pulled out of a project to launch a Hispanic restaurant in Trump’s ritzy new Washington hotel that opened in October. Judge Jennifer A. Di Toro denied a request from Trump’s lawyers to cancel his testimony on the grounds of his busy schedule as president elect or to limit its duration, which could be up to seven hours.

Trump with his wife and children at the inauguration of his Washington hotel in October.
Trump with his wife and children at the inauguration of his Washington hotel in October. AP

However, she ruled the deposition could take place at the politician’s New York Trump Tower and not in the legal offices of the Washington-based law firm, as would normally be the case.

Trump and confirmed Democrat José Andrés, who trained under famed Spanish chef Ferran Adrià, have been involved in a legal dispute since 2015, when the chef turned his back on a contract to open a gourmet restaurant in the US president-elect’s five-star Trump International Washington D.C. hotel, following attacks made by the then-Republican candidate on Mexican immigrants. Andrés subsequently explained that this was not so much an act of protest as one of common sense since many of his workers and customers are potentially of Hispanic origin.

Spanish chef José Andres trained under Ferran Adrià at the El Bulli restaurant.
Spanish chef José Andres trained under Ferran Adrià at the El Bulli restaurant.

The hotel and casino tycoon filed a lawsuit against Andrés in August 2015 in which he demanded $10 million damages for breach of contract. Andrés hit back with a counter claim for $8 million to cover the costs incurred when embarking on the project as well as lost profits.

The judge’s decision that Trump should appear in court regardless of his new responsibilities came the day after Andrés had offered Trump the chance to settle their spat out of court. “Mr. @realDonaldTrump. Can we end our lawsuits and we donate $ to a Veterans NGO to celebrate? Why keep litigating? Let’s both of us win,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

This is just one of the numerous litigation cases Trump has pending. According to USA Today, at the end of October the president elect had 75 of the 4,000-plus lawsuits brought against either him or his businesses still pending resolution.

But being the most powerful man in the world leaves no time for legal squabbles and, after being voted in on November 8, Trump reversed his “never settle” stance and forked out $25 million to end a fraud case filed against Trump University, an institution that has since closed.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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