In a case involving two lawsuits filed by former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, a federal magistrate denied the Justice Department’s motion.
NBC News reported on Thursday that the DOJ was attempting to prevent former President Donald Trump from offering depositions in the lawsuits “to determine whether he met with and directly pressured FBI and Justice Department officials to fire Strzok or whether he urged any White House aides to do so,” according to the report.
The report continued: “The judge’s order was in response to the Justice Department asking her to reconsider an earlier ruling that said Strzok’s attorneys could move forward with a deposition of Trump in lawsuits against the Justice Department and FBI filed by Strzok and Page in 2019. The Justice Department had argued Wednesday that ‘newly available evidence’ stemming from FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony last week, as well as sworn testimony from other high-level government officials with ‘direct knowledge’ of Trump’s communications regarding Strzok and Page, was grounds for reconsidering a deposition involving the former president.”
The Justice Department’s attorneys wrote, “The availability of that evidence to Mr. Strzok means the deposition of former President Trump is not appropriate,” which furthered their earlier defense of the apex doctrine, which states that officials are typically exempt from depositions unless they have firsthand knowledge of the matter and the information cannot be obtained through alternative means.
Attorneys for the Department of Justice had previously argued that Wray’s testimony could render Trump’s deposition unnecessary. The Department of Justice referred to “newly available evidence” in their court filing, although many specifics were withheld.
According to Thursday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, Trump-related depositions may proceed.
“Given the limited nature of the deposition that has been ordered, and the fact that the former President’s schedule appears to be able to accommodate other civil litigation that he has initiated, the outcome of the balancing required by the apex doctrine remains the same for all of the reasons previously stated,” Jackson wrote.
She also noted that the previously presented testimony did not appear to support the notion that Trump was directly responsible for Strzok’s dismissal. She did, however, note that the former president had “publicly boasted” of his involvement in the matter.
Prior to May 24, when Trump was scheduled to be deposed regarding the cases, Jackson had approved barring that date and supported the Justice Department’s request to depose Wray first. She did, however, reaffirm the legitimacy of her earlier decision to allow Trump’s deposition.
Strzok and Page were removed from the investigation being conducted by then-special counsel Robert Mueller in December 2017 after it was disclosed that the president had received crucial text messages. In one conversation, Strzok suggested that he and the FBI would work to prevent Trump from becoming president and would instead support his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
In addition, reports indicate that Strzok and Page once had a romantic relationship.
More on this story via The Republic Brief:
They were subsequently let go from their jobs at the FBI as well. CONTINUE READING…