In a case including two lawsuits brought by former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, a judge has rejected a motion made by President Biden’s Justice Department.
According to NBC News, the DOJ was trying to hinder former President Trump from giving sworn evidence in the suits “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.”
According to the report, “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.”
Justice attorneys stated, “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 “prevents high-ranking executive officials from being subject to depositions unless extraordinary circumstances exist.”
Attorneys for the Justice Department had earlier argued that Wray’s testimony might make it unnecessary for Trump to take a deposition. Although many of the specifics were withheld in the court brief, the DOJ highlighted “newly available evidence” in their case.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was nominated by former President Barack Hussein Obama, decided that depositions involving Trump could proceed.
“The outcome of the balancing required by the apex doctrine remains the same for all of the previously stated reasons,” Jackson stated in her ruling. “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.”
“Additionally, she noted that the existing testimony did not seem to bolster the claim that Trump was directly responsible for terminating Strzok. However, she highlighted that the former president had “publicly boasted” about his participation in the issue,” Conservative Brief reported.
Two months ago, Jackson had approved the blocking of deposing Trump on May 24 in relation to the lawsuits, supporting the Justice Department’s plea to depose Wray first. However, she reiterated that her previous decision to allow Trump’s deposition remained valid.
Following the exposure of critical text messages about Trump in December 2017, Strzok and Page were removed from then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. In one exchange, Strzok suggested that he and the bureau would stop Trump from becoming president in favor of his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton.
Additionally, it was mentioned in reports that Strzok and Page once had a love connection. They were later let go from their jobs at the FBI.
Earlier this year Jackson barred a May 24 deposition of Trump in connection with two cases brought by former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, giving the Justice Department a victory.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson followed a Justice Department motion submitted asking her to reevaluate a previous decision that allowed depositions of President Trump and FBI Director Christopher Wray in the lawsuits without dictating their order. Attorneys for the government claimed that since Wray’s deposition has not yet been scheduled, Trump’s may not even need to be taken.
In her order, Jackson cited her February decision that Trump and Wray’s depositions in lawsuits Strzok and Page filed against the Justice Department and the FBI in 2019 must last no longer than two hours and be restricted to a “narrow set of topics.”
“The Court is somewhat surprised to learn that since then, the parties have done nothing more than wrangle over the order of the two depositions,” Jackson wrote. “The government seems chagrined that the Court did not order that the deposition of the FBI Director be completed first, but it may recall that it was the Court’s view that it was Director Wray, the only current high-ranking public official in the group of proposed deponents, whose ongoing essential duties fell most squarely under the protection of the doctrine in question.”
The order came three days before Special Counsel John Durham’s final report, released May 15, which declared that the bureau’s probe into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin to win the 2016 election was “seriously flawed” and that “the FBI discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship.”
The special counsel is likely to take heat from both sides when he appears at the Capitol.
Republican members of Congress expressed their outrage and confusion over the refusal of a number of key players in the investigation, including former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and former FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok, to speak with Durham.