Video could soon be made public that shows Donald Trump’s being questioned under oath in a legal case stemming from his saying that undocumented immigrants from Mexico are criminals and “rapists.”
Interested in Donald Trump?Add Donald Trump as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Donald Trump news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
The presidential candidate and New York real estate mogul was ordered to sit for a formal, taped deposition in June after suing celebrity chef and TV star Geoffrey Zakarian, who backed out of a restaurant venture in Washington, D.C., shortly after Trump made his comments about Mexican immigrants last summer.
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.
“I’ve tapped into something. And I’ve tapped into illegal immigration.”
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.
The controversy and lawsuit began over a year ago, almost immediately after the launch of Trump’s presidential campaign. As Trump announced his bid for the White House, he set off a firestorm with his comments about Mexican immigrants.
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.