By Meg Garner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Donald Trump spent about two hours at a Washington law firm on Thursday for a deposition in his lawsuit against celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, who withdrew last year from a deal to open a restaurant at Trump’s new hotel after the candidate made disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants.
Roughly 60 protesters from the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, and the immigration organization United We Dream waited for the presumptive Republican nominee outside the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, chanting “love conquers hate” and “no more hate” in both English and Spanish.
Protesters also gathered in nearby buildings, with rainbow flags symbolizing gay pride and multi-colored balloons spelling out the word “pride” hanging in the windows.
Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, and Deborah Baum of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, lead counsel for Zakarian, both declined to comment on the deposition. Rebecca Woods of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw, who is representing Trump, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It was the latest example of Trump’s business dealings putting him in unusual legal situations for a major presidential candidate. The New York businessman also faces a highly publicized lawsuit by former students of Trump University, his real-estate training program.
Thursday’s deposition was part of a $10 million lawsuit over Zakarian’s decision to pull out of a deal for a restaurant at the Trump International Hotel, Trump’s re-make of the Old Post Office not far from the White House in Washington.
Zakarian, who is also a television personality, withdrew after Trump called Mexican immigrants to the United States rapists and criminals during his campaign launch in June 2015. Jose Andres, another famous chef, pulled out of his own deal over the same comments. Trump filed lawsuits against both.
On Thursday, representatives from United We Dream, which rallies immigrant youth, congratulated Zakarian and Andres for “standing up to Trump.”
Adrian Reyna, the group’s director of membership, said that by refusing to work with Trump, the celebrity chefs have created opportunities to do business with the immigrant community and others who oppose Trump.
“People in this country make choices about where to put their money, and business leaders need to pay attention,” Reyna said.
Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Dallas later on Thursday.
(Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson in Washington and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)