In 2015, a small group of protesters held a large sign on the public sidewalk outside of Trump Tower saying “Trump—Make America Racist Again” to protest Donald Trump’s racist remarks toward Mexicans during this then newly-launched campaign. Some of the protesters were wearing KKK hoods and robes to drive home their point.
Donald Trump was in the building, preparing to give a press conference when his personal security team, led by Keith Schiller, Donald Trump’s then head of security, appeared at the entrance of the building. Keith Schiller, a former NY policeman, aggressively took the sign and began dragging it toward the building when one of the protesters, Efrain Galicia, tried to stop Schiller from taking the sign. Galicia tried to grab the sign back from Schiller and in the scuffle, Galicia made contact with Schiller from behind. That’s when Schiller turned around and using a closed fist, punched him in the head. The moment was captured by a NY1 and can be seen in the video below.
Galicia and four other protesters filed a civil suit in 2017 and that case is still moving forward. Yesterday, Justice Doris Gonzalez of the Bronx Supreme Court ruled Donald Trump must give a video deposition in the case, calling his testimony “indispensable” because the protesters are claiming Schiller acted on orders from Donald Trump. More from the The Washington Post:
The protesters argue Trump, his campaign and business should be held liable for the actions of security guards who were working for the company. They say, even if Trump didn’t directly order the guards to act, he had control over their actions because they were his employees and his campaign trail rhetoric gave them the impression that violence would be condoned.
Just before the assault, Trump’s bodyguards were seen ushering the protesters away, falsely telling them the sidewalk was private property.
As noted in The Washington Post, the incident happened just days after another public incident with Trump and Schiller.
The rally took place about a week after Schiller forcibly removed Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a crowded news conference. In news footage of the incident, Trump appeared to catch Schiller’s eye before the security chief moved toward the reporter.
And this is why the protesters want to hold Donald Trump accountable for the actions of his guard and why it is critical to get Donald Trump on the record in the matter. Justice Gonzalez noted in the ruling. From The New York Times:
Justice Gonzalez noted that the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that presidents did not have temporary immunity for acts that were done before taking office and were not related to their official duties. In that matter, a federal civil lawsuit by Paula Jones against President Bill Clinton, Mr. Clinton ultimately submitted to a deposition, but the case never went to trial.
Friday’s ruling also pointed to one from a New York appeals court in March that rejected a claim by Mr. Trump’s legal team that, as president, he was immune from state lawsuits under the Constitution. That ruling has permitted a defamation suit — from a former contestant on “The Apprentice” whom Mr. Trump called a liar after she accused him of groping her — to proceed.
In the Jones case, Bill Clinton said under oath he hadn’t had a relationship with Monica Lewinsky, something that was later proved to be a lie and which became the basis for the House to impeach him.
Justice Gonzalez further noted, “nobody is above the law.”
“More than 200 years ago our founders sought to escape an oppressive, tyrannical governance in which absolute power vested with a monarch,” Justice Gonzalez wrote. “A fear of the recurrence of tyranny birthed our three-branch government adorned with checks and balances.”
“No government official, including the executive, is above the law,” she added.
Barring delays, the case is expected to go to trial Thursday, Sept. 26. Stay tuned.