In a transcript of the deposition video obtained by ABC News, the Republican nominee claims his comments about immigration, among other issues, could have helped, not hurt, Zakarian’s restaurant prospects. “If he had the restaurant, it would be helped,” Trump said responding to questioning.
Trump argued that since his position on immigration was long-standing, the chef wrongfully backed out of the business deal, saying, “And I’ve been saying these things for years. I’ve been very consistent. I’ve been saying them from before he signed the lease.”
In the latest development in the case, a D.C. trial court judge denied requests by Trump’s lawyers to keep sealed the footage of his being questioned for the deposition.
Zakarian quickly denounced the remarks and announced he was backing out of the planned project with a development group owned by Trump to open a restaurant in his new Washington hotel at the Old Post Office Pavilion. Trump’s legal team sued the chef last year and sought $10 million in damages.
Zakarian has filed a counterclaim on the grounds that Trump’s comments were a “breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.”
During a series of questions from opposing counsel, according to the deposition transcripts, Trump acknowledged that Hispanic customers could be turned off by his comments and that Zakarian may have genuinely believed Trump’s rhetoric would make it harder to hire staffers and attract patrons.
“Do you think that there are some Hispanic patrons who would be less likely to patronize any restaurant in any of your hotels or any of your properties?” an attorney asked Trump.
“It is always possible,” he replied, but he again said his candidacy could attract business and claimed that has happened at other Trump properties.
During the exchange, Trump credited his position on illegal immigration with “[leading] to my nomination in a major party in the country.”
When making the determination not to seal the taped deposition, D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian F. Holeman weighed that fact that, as his opinion last week stated, “public interest is heightened in an action involving a candidate seeking public office.”
ABC News’ Serena Marshall contributed to this story.