A federal judge has rejected a motion filed by the Justice Department in a case related to lawsuits filed by former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
President Joe Biden’s DOJ was attempting to prevent former President Donald Trump from giving depositions in a pair of lawsuits “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,” NBC News reported last week.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued her order in response to the Justice Department’s request for the court to reconsider a previous ruling permitting Strzok’s attorneys to proceed with a deposition of Trump in the lawsuits brought against the Justice Department and FBI by Strzok and Lisa Page in 2019.
The DOJ argued that recent evidence, including FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony and sworn testimonies from other government officials familiar with Trump’s communications regarding Strzok and Page, justified reevaluating the deposition involving the former president, NBC News reported.
“The availability of that evidence to Mr. Strzok means the deposition of former President Trump is not appropriate,” wrote Justice Department attorneys, which further reinforced their previous argument in favor of the apex doctrine, a principle that asserts officials are typically exempt from depositions unless they possess firsthand knowledge of the subject matter and the information cannot be obtained through alternative means.
DOJ attorneys had contended previously that Wray’s testimony could likely eliminate any need for a deposition from Trump. The department referred to “newly available evidence” in the court filing, although much of the specific details were redacted.
In her order, Jackson ruled that depositions involving Trump could go ahead.
“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.
Furthermore, the judge observed that the available testimony did not appear to provide strong support for the argument that Trump personally terminated Strzok. Nevertheless, she emphasized that the former president had “publicly boasted” about his involvement in the matter.
Two months ago, Jackson had granted the request to postpone Trump’s deposition until after Wray’s deposition, as requested by the Justice Department. However, she reiterated that her previous decision to allow Trump’s deposition to proceed was still in effect.
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.
Reports also noted that Strzok and Page had a romantic relationship for a time. Subsequently, they were fired from their positions at the FBI.
Trump is currently facing a set of serious charges. Special counsel Jack Smith has filed 34 counts against him, pertaining to his handling of classified documents after leaving office. Additionally, District Attorney Alvin Bragg has issued a 37-count indictment in Manhattan, which relates to a hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
Moreover, the 2024 GOP presidential leader could potentially face further charges in Fulton County, Georgia. Those charges stem from allegations of unlawful interference by Trump and his team in the outcome of the 2020 election within the state.
According to a letter obtained by The New York Times last month, District Attorney Fani Willis has reportedly told her staff to work remotely from July 31 through August 18 while also asking judges in a downtown Atlanta courthouse not to schedule any trials 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.