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Former President Trump Settles Lawsuit Bought by Activists Allegedly Assaulted by Security Team During Protest

A photo shows Donald Trump.

Former President Donald Trump (Photo by Emily Elconin/Getty Images.)

Former President Donald Trump agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by activists allegedly assaulted by the then-candidate’s security detail at a protest in 2015.

The deal, first reported by Fox News reporter Marta Dhanis, averts a looming trial that would have followed then-ongoing jury selection.

Long delayed since its filing before Trump’s election, the lawsuit was originally filed against the former president’s 2016 campaign, the Trump Organization, and Trump’s then-head of security Keith Schiller.

Led by human rights activist Efrain Galicia, the activists claimed that Schiller assaulted them in attacks that sent one to the hospital. They had been protesting Trump’s statements about Mexican immigrants and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Galicia’s affidavit alludes to Trump’s inflammatory remarks about Mexican people when announcing his candidacy in July 2015.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said at the time. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

In an affidavit, Galicia said: “I was deeply offended by his statements that accused Mexican immigrants of being murderers and rapists. Many people that I knew within the immigrant community were also offended and concerned about Trump’s statements.”

At the protest, Galicia claimed, Schiller “punched me in the head, knocking me backward.”

“When I fell backward from Schiller’s punch, another security guard grabbed me by the neck and I struggled with him to get free,” Galicia wrote.

After more than half a decade of litigation, the protesters forced Trump to take the hot seat in an October deposition. Trump had been fighting the subpoena for years, arguing that a sitting president should not be forced to sit to testify. After being voted out of office, an appellate court rejected the argument as moot.

Details of the deal remain sparse, with neither of the parties disclosing the terms.

Attorney Benjamin Dictor, who represents the protesters, said Trump balked at facing a jury.

“Defendants were staring down the barrel of a Bronx jury who were about to be presented with overwhelming evidence in support of plaintiffs’ claims,” Dictor told Law&Crime. “Nevertheless, plaintiffs are proud to have settled their claims and to have obtained written recognition by Donald Trump of their right to protest on the public sidewalk. Powerful men may put their names on buildings, but the sidewalk will always belong to the people.”

He reportedly told NBC News that the resolution marked “an incredible day for our clients, who are lifelong activists in the community […] who stood up to defend the right to speech on the public sidewalk and have litigated for seven years. And today, the matter was resolved on terms that they are very, very happy with.”

Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba said she’s “very pleased” with it.

“Although we were eager to proceed to trial to demonstrate the frivolousness of this case, the parties were ultimately able to come to an amicable resolution,” Habba wrote in a statement. “We are very pleased with this outcome and are happy to finally put this matter to rest once and for all.”

Trump famously claims to be loath to settle lawsuits, but this is not the first time he has done so.

In 2019, Trump reached an agreement with New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) forcing him to pay $2 million and admit that he misused money from the Trump Foundation. Her office also shut down the charity.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."