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Chef Zakarian: Trump Comments on Mexicans 'Disgraceful'

Image: Chef Zakarian: Trump Comments on Mexicans 'Disgraceful'
Chef Geoffrey Zakarian (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

By    |   Tuesday, 26 Jul 2016 04:15 PM

Donald Trump reportedly says he'd planned to deliver a harsh condemnation of illegal Mexican immigrants at his campaign kickoff — but never scripted the remarks, talked about it beforehand, or considered the impact.

Politico reports the admission came at a June 16 deposition in Washington for one of two lawsuits Trump has filed against celebrity chefs who abandoned deals to put restaurants in Trump's soon-to-be opened Washington hotel.

"Did you give any thoughts to the effect that your statement relative to Mexicans and immigrants would have on tenants in your current or future projects?" asked Deborah Baum, a lawyer for "Chopped" star and chef, Geoffrey Zakarian, Politico reports.

"No. No, I didn't," he said. "I didn't at all."

Asked if thought the comments — first delivered at his campaign kickoff in June 2015 — were misinterpreted by the press, Trump replied: "I think the media is very dishonest."

"But all I'm doing is bringing up a situation which is very real, about illegal immigration," he said. "And I think, you know, most people think I'm right."

The remarks were revealed in court filings submitted the same day Trump was formally nominated at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week, Politico reports.

Trump is asking about $14 million from Zakarian for backing out of the restaurant deal; Washington chef and restaurateur José Andres also has abandoned restaurant plans at the hotel.

According to Politico, during the furor that followed Trump's anti-immigrant remarks,  an aide to Andres reached out to Ivanka Trump and Zakarian contacted Donald Trump, Jr. — trying to get the elder Trump to retract his attack.

"I was hoping and praying that someone, somehow would get to him and shake him up," Zakarian said in his deposition, Politico reports. It didn't happen, and Zakarian contends the attack doomed the restaurant venture.

"There's reputation. There's financial," Zakarian said, according to Politico. "There's . . . familial reasons, because moralistically speaking, all my employees are Mexicans or Hispanics, almost all of them. It's disgraceful."

"The fact of the matter is he poisoned the space," Zakarian said about why he thought the venture would fail, according to Politico. "You don't have to do much analysis. It's just like you're out of business . . . This was just no longer viable anymore."

Zakarian's lawyers say Trump's side shouldn't get anything because it hasn't proved damages beyond speculation. Politico reports Trump acknowledged at the deposition figuring out how well a restaurant will do is mostly guesswork.

"Honestly, you never know," he said.

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Donald Trump reportedly says he'd planned to deliver a harsh condemnation of illegal Mexican immigrants at his campaign kickoff - but never scripted the remarks, talked about it beforehand, or considered the impact.
geoffrey zakarian, dc hotel, donald trump, celebrity chef, lawsuit
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2016-15-26
Tuesday, 26 Jul 2016 04:15 PM
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