WASHINGTON – Donald Trump suggests in a videotaped deposition released Friday that his presidential campaign could boost business at his hotels and increase the value of his personal brand.
District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman ordered the release of Trump's deposition from June following requests filed by news organizations. Though a transcript of Trump's testimony was previously filed publicly, the Republican presidential nominee's lawyers asked the judge to seal the video. Holeman refused.
Trump's company sued Geoffrey Zakarian last year when the restaurateur withdrew from his lease to open a high-end eatery in the new Trump International Hotel in Washington after the candidate characterized Mexicans as being criminals, drug dealers and rapists.
Trump testified he didn't think his widely criticized comments were harmful because he went on to beat a roster of "highly respected" candidates, including senators and governors. to win the GOP presidential primary.
"So it's not like, you know, like I've said anything that could be so bad," Trump said. "Because if I said something that was so bad, they wouldn't have had me go through all of these people and win all of these primary races."
Zakarian followed suit after Spanish-American chef José Andrés withdrew from his deal to open a different restaurant in the luxury hotel, citing Trump's derogatory comments.
Trump sued both for breach of contract, seeking damages and lost rent in excess of $10 million from each.
Trump said the men pulled out because "they thought I made statements that were inflammatory in some form," but added that he was surprised they withdrew. He said he thought the men had made a big mistake, and he expected his Washington hotel to be a great success.
Trump disputed media reports that occupancy at his hotels slumped after he announced his presidential bid last year, saying business had been steady or even better at his resort properties.
He specifically cited the example of his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
"The manager told me recently, he said, 'Boy this is the best — it is actually the best year we've ever had a Mar-a-Lago,'" Trump recounted, adding that the manager attributed the uptick in business to the campaign.
Trump said it was difficult to put a precise value on his personal brand, but said his company had previously commissioned a study that put the worth of the Trump name as being in excess of $2 billion.
Asked to predict how his presidential bid would affect the value of his properties, Trump said time will tell — especially depending on whether he wins in November.
"We're going to know in five months, right?" Trump said in June. "But it's been, you know, it's been a lot of wins. We've beaten a lot of people. And I think people like that. So I think ... it will be great for the building in question."