By Katelyn Polantz, CNN Reporter, Crime and Justice
There’s a reason Donald Trump is riding out Hurricane Ian at his Florida beach club: He was scheduled to be deposed at Mar-a-Lago on Friday as a defendant in a class-action lawsuit.
The revelation was made public in letters filed in court Wednesday by the lawyers suing him. They are trying to question the former President in an ongoing case that accuses him, his adult children and the Trump Organization of deception and fraud as they allegedly promoted scam businesses.
John Quinn, one of the lawyers representing a group of people accusing Trump, told a federal judge on Wednesday that Trump refused to move his deposition out of Palm Beach, even as the hurricane approached. Quinn and his team didn’t want to fly into Florida this week given the severity of the storm, and they said Trump’s side wouldn’t move the deposition to Bedminster, New Jersey, where Trump has a golf club.
The court had set a Friday deadline for lawyers to be able to question Trump and others in the case under oath.
But Trump’s lawyers responded in court Wednesday night that they had flown to Palm Beach this week, with Trump ready to testify. And, they said they would have rescheduled the deposition, if only Quinn’s team had asked.
Trump’s lawyer Clifford Robert called Quinn on Tuesday, Quinn wrote in the letter to the federal court in Manhattan, “to tell me that he and his colleague were boarding a flight to Palm Beach. I expressed some surprise—I believe I used the word ‘walloped’—but Mr. Robert indicated they were flying down anyway.”
“We reached out to Mr. Robert and his colleague again this afternoon, both by phone and by email, but were not able to get in touch with them,” Quinn told the judge. “Accordingly, the last we heard is that Defendants insist the deposition go forward at Mar-a-Lago and on Friday. With all respect, we do not believe that is prudent or safe.”
Quinn included in his letter a radar image showing the intensity of Hurricane Ian. As of Wednesday night, Ian had weakened to a Category 2 hurricane hours after pummeling southwestern Florida, but officials continued to warn people to stay inside as they said the worst of the storm could be on the way.
Trump’s team shot back in court a few hours later on Wednesday that Quinn was misrepresenting what had happened.
Robert wrote that he had checked to see if Friday at Mar-a-Lago was still a go, and Quinn had said yes.
“President Trump stands ready, willing and able to proceed with his deposition on Friday,” Trump’s attorney told the judge.
“Now that we have all traveled to West Palm Beach, and are currently sitting in the middle of a hurricane while Plaintiffs’ counsel enjoys the comforts of home, Plaintiffs have the gall to request that the deposition for which Defendants spent considerable time and resources preparing be cancelled less than 48 hours prior to its scheduled date and time.”
Robert also accused the lawyers suing Trump of trying to give the public the impression Trump is unreasonable.
Magistrate Judge Sarah Cave of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York extended the deadline Wednesday night for Quinn’s team to question Trump, saying she had done so “out of concern for the safety of the parties, court reporter, videographer, and any other required attendees of the Deposition.”
The deadline for Trump to be deposed is now October 31.
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2018, alleges that Trump and three of his adult children used his reality TV show “The Celebrity Apprentice” and other promotional events to rake in money for their endorsements of a multi-level marketing scheme and other scam businesses. The lawsuit claims inexperienced investors in the businesses were ripped off, largely because they were persuaded by Trump’s promotions.
Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were also on the list of people Quinn’s team could depose, and they previously agreed to sit for the interviews.
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CNN’s Kara Scannell contributed to this report.