A federal magistrate denied the Justice Department’s request in a case involving petitions filed by former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
According to NBC News last week, President Joe Biden’s DOJ attempted to prevent former President Donald Trump from testifying in court “to determine whether he met with and directly pressured FBI and Justice Department officials to fire Strzok or urged any White House aides to do so,” in two lawsuits.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued her order in response to the Justice Department’s request that the court reconsider an earlier decision allowing Strzok’s attorneys to proceed with a deposition of Trump in the lawsuits Strzok and Lisa Page filed against the Justice Department and FBI in 2019.
According to NBC News, the DOJ argued that new information, including FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony and written declarations from other government officials familiar with Trump’s interactions with Strzok and Page, necessitated a reexamination of the former president’s deposition.
The Justice Department’s attorneys wrote, “The availability of this evidence to Mr. Strzok renders the deposition of former President Trump inappropriate,” extending their earlier defense of the apex doctrine, which states that officials are generally exempt from depositions unless they have firsthand knowledge of the matter and the information cannot be obtained through alternative means.
Previously, DOJ attorneys contended that Wray’s testimony could render Trump’s deposition unnecessary. In its court filing, the agency referred to “newly available evidence” despite the redaction of numerous specifics.
Under her direction, Jackson determined that Trump’s depositions could 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.
Given the available testimony, the judge noted that there did not appear to be much evidence to support the claim that Trump dismissed Strzok personally. She emphasized that the former president had “publicly boasted” of his involvement in the incident.
Jackson consented in February to the Justice Department’s request to delay Trump’s deposition until after that of Wray. She reaffirmed, however, that her previous decision to proceed with Trump’s deposition remained in effect.
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.
Additionally, reports indicated that Strzok and Page once had a romantic relationship. The FBI subsequently terminated their employment.
Trump is currently facing several serious accusations. Special counsel Jack Smith has filed 34 counts against him relating to his handling of classified materials after leaving office. In addition, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced a 37-count indictment in relation to a hush money payment made to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election.
Fulton County, Georgia, could bring additional charges against the 2024 Republican presidential front-runner. These accusations stem from allegations that Trump and his team improperly influenced the 2020 election outcome in the state.
According to a letter obtained by The New York Times last month, District Attorney Fani Willis allegedly instructed her staff to work remotely from July 31 through August 18 and asked justices in a central Atlanta courthouse not to schedule any cases between August 7 and August 14.
“The moves suggest that [Willis] is expecting a grand jury to unseal indictments during that time period,” the Times reported.