José Luis Villegas/AP, left; Andrew Winning/Reuters
- Donald Trump didn’t plead the Fifth when deposed for an “Electric Avenue” copyright lawsuit.
- Singer Eddy Grant had sued Trump after the ’80s dance hit was used in a Biden-bashing tweet in 2020.
- Trump’s ex-social media director Dan Scavino is meanwhile fighting being deposed, Grant’s side says.
The former president gave a court-ordered deposition earlier this year in Grant’s $300,000 copyright infringement lawsuit, which is filed in federal court in Manhattan, a court filing revealed Monday.
The lawsuit alleges that Grant’s 1983 dance-hall hit was used by Trump and his 2020 campaign without the reggae-disco star’s permission, as part of a Biden-bashing animation posted to Trump’s Twitter.
Some 40 seconds of “Electric Avenue” plays in the background of the animation, which depicts then-candidate Joe Biden puttering along on a slow-moving hand-car as the Trump campaign barrels past in a high-speed train.
The animation was posted on August 12, 2020, and got 13 million views before it was taken down a month later, the lawsuit says.
“Mr. Trump was deposed in this action and did not object to answering questions about the tweet,” said the new filing by Grant’s lawyer, Brett Van Benthysen.
Trump was scheduled to be deposed in the case in early April in Van Benthysen’s Manhattan offices.
Trump was to answer questions concerning the campaign’s access to and control over his Twitter account.
Trump was also to be asked about the process for the campaign deciding to have Trump post the tweet, and what “financial or political benefit” the campaign received from it, according to court documents.
Online court records do not say what day Trump was deposed, or where.
The purpose of Monday’s filing was for Grant’s side to demand a hearing over Trump advisor Dan Scavino’s failure to comply with a subpoena for his own deposition in the lawsuit.
“Mr. Scavino is reported to have frequently authored and/or reviewed Mr. Trump’s tweets and defendants have represented that Mr. Scavino had a role in the alleged tweet containing the infringing video,” Grant’s lawyer wrote in an August 20 court filing that explains why Scavino’s testimony is being sought.
Scavino, a longtime aide and adviser to Trump, has also fought a House January 6 committee subpoena for his phone records.
US District Judge John G. Koeltl set Wednesday, December 21, for a hearing on Scavino’s failure to comply with Grant’s subpoena.
Lawyers for Trump and Grant have agreed to a strict gag order in the case and have repeatedly declined to comment. They did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.
Trump has sat for at least three other depositions in lawsuits against him this year. He pleaded the Fifth some 400 times when forced to sit for questioning by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who was readying a $250 million lawsuit alleging a longstanding pattern of business fraud.
In October, Trump was deposed by lawyers for E. Jean Carroll, a magazine author and online advice columnist who has accused him of defaming her after she said he had raped her 30 years ago. Trump publicly denied the rape accusation and called Carroll a liar.
Also in October, the former president was deposed in a class action lawsuit that claims he defrauded investors into backing a “doomed” multi-level marketing company he’d repeatedly hyped on “The Apprentice.”