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Robert De Niro testifies it was fine to call his assistant at her grandmother's funeral: 'I don't know if they were putting the body in the ground'

robert de niro cannes film festival hand raised
Robert De Niro raising his arm at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier
  • Robert De Niro is on his second day of testimony in a trial between him and his former assistant.

  • He defended calling her at her grandmother's funeral, saying she said it was OK.

  • "I don't know if they were putting the body in the ground," he said.

Robert De Niro spent several minutes on the witness stand in Manhattan federal court Tuesday explaining why it was OK for him to make two phone calls to his assistant at her grandmother's funeral.

De Niro wanted the assistant, Chase Robinson, to purchase bus tickets for his son, he said. She had told him at a certain point that it would be fine for him to call her, he said.


"I don't know if they were putting the body in the ground or at a wake or something," De Niro testified on the witness stand.

De Niro is on his second day of testimony for a civil trial between him and Robinson.

Robinson alleged that he oversaw a workplace rife with gender discrimination through his company, Canal Productions, where she worked as an executive assistant for over a decade, and subjected her to "gratuitous unwanted physical contact."

De Niro has denied the allegations and filed a countersuit, accusing her of improperly charging hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of personal expenses like meals and Uber rides to the company credit card, stealing 5 million Delta SkyMiles for personal vacations, and having "loafed during working hours, binge-watching astounding hours of TV shows on Netflix."

The 80-year-old star of "Killers of the Flower Moon" and "Meet the Fockers" spent much of his testimony Tuesday morning asking Robinson's lawyer Andrew Macurdy to repeat his questions.

At one point, Macurdy asked De Niro if it was true that Robinson ordered "supplies" to her own home before bringing them via Uber to De Niro's townhouse, which he said did not have its own doorman to handle deliveries.

"Could you repeat that?" De Niro asked.

Macurdy tried asking the question again.

"You're calling them 'slides'?" De Niro asked again.

Eventually, De Niro got the question.

"Oh, supplies! I genuinely did not understand what you said," De Niro responded, before saying "That's fine" if she expensed Ubers for that purpose.

Macurdy pressed De Niro on a delivery he made from Nobu, the restaurant he co-owns.

"One time you really wanted a particular martini at Nobu and you asked her to deliver it for you, yes?" Macurdy asked, noting that it was at 11 p.m.

"That would have been one time," De Niro responded. "That's different."

Between 2017 and 2019, according to De Niro's lawsuit, the company's credit card had accrued enough points to be worth 8 million Delta SkyMiles. Robinson took 5 million for herself, he alleged.

While De Niro conceded Tuesday that there were occasional trips where he approved her use of them, he said she should have been judicious.

His own children, he complained, had to pay for plane fares instead of using the plane points.

"I made it clear to her in multiple conversations, don't overuse SkyMiles," he said.

Read the original article on Insider