Trump attorney: Deposing president for Louisville lawsuit would be a "burden" on the country
“There will undoubtedly be challenges in scheduling the leader of the free world for a deposition,” an attorney for Trump wrote.
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- Before ruling that Donald Trump should be deposed in a Louisville lawsuit, a federal judge should consider the “burdens that will impose on the country,” an attorney for the president wrote in court records released Tuesday.
Last week, attorneys for three people who claim in a lawsuit they were assaulted at Trump rally in Louisville argued the suit should not be put on hold because Trump is now president. They note they have spent months unsuccessfully trying to depose, or get testimony, from Trump.
The attorneys, Dan Canon and Greg Belzley, argued that the “Trump presidency is, shall we say, qualitatively different from most modern presidencies in terms of the ‘undivided time and attention’ paid by the President to his ‘public duties.’
“As of this writing, Trump has played golf 20 times since his inauguration,” according to Canon and Belzley’s motion. “He has the time for a deposition.”
However, in a response on Tuesday, attorney Kent Westberry, who is representing Trump, wrote that “contrary to Plaintiff’s dismissive position … it is quite clear that the federal judiciary should not cavalierly authorize the deposition of the President of the United States without seriously considering … the serious issues entailed in such an extraordinary step.”
Westberry also argues that Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl should “carefully and deliberately consider whether deposing the sitting president is appropriate in this particular case." He has asked the judge to set a hearing for arguments on whether the president should be deposed.
And the case can continue, for some time, without Trump’s deposition, as other evidence can still be collected and other witnesses deposed, Westberry said.
By requesting a deposition now, Westberry accuses Canon and Belzley of asking the judge to “launch headlong into a constitutional crisis.”
“There will undoubtedly be challenges in scheduling the leader of the free world for a deposition,” Westberry wrote, arguing the judge needs to consider the burdens the deposition would have on the president. And the judge should consider hearing arguments from the executive branch on the "propriety of deposing" the sitting president, Westberry argues.
Both sides have recommended a trial date of August 2018.
Attorneys for Trump have denied wrongdoing, arguing, in part, that he is “immune from suit because he is President,” that he did not order anyone to hurt protesters and that he is not liable for anything done by his supporters at the March 1, 2016, rally. In addition, the president is arguing the lawsuit is a violation of his freedom of speech.
A federal judge last month rejected the freedom of speech argument, ruling that speech inciting violence is not protected by the First Amendment. Trump has appealed that ruling.
Two other men named in the lawsuit -- a white supremacist and a Korean War era veteran --have filed lawsuits against Trump claiming the president “inspired” them to allegedly assault protesters when they removed them from the rally.
Trump’s attorney have argued he is not responsible for any actions committed by Matthew Heimbach, a leader with the white supremacist Traditionalist Youth Network, and Alvin Bamberger, another Trump supporter accused of assaulting a protester at the rally.
Canon and Belzley represent Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau, who have said they were peacefully protesting at the Kentucky International Convention Center when Trump ordered supporters to throw them out.
An attorney for Trump said the president specifically said, “Don’t hurt them,” after his “get ‘em out of here” comment.
And Trump’s legal team cited a lawsuit in which a basketball player punched an opponent during a game and the victim sued the coach, saying he had inspired his player. That claim was rejected by the courts.
But Canon and Belzley argue this is “akin to shouting ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater, then claiming immunity because you urged the panicked crowd to file out in an orderly fashion,” according to their motion.
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