A federal court on Friday barred a May 24 deposition of former President Donald 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 on Thursday 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 on Friday, Berman 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,” Berman 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.”
According to the judge’s cited legal precedent, the lower-ranking government representative should be deposed first in case their answers make it unnecessary to interrogate the higher-ranking representative.
The judge defended her former decision as well.
“The Court’s ruling was appropriate in light of all of the facts, including the former President’s own public statements concerning his role in the firing of the plaintiff,” Berman Jackson wrote.
Requests for comment on Friday night went unanswered by the lawyers for Strzok, Page, and Trump.
After text conversations that were disparaging of Trump were made public in December 2017, Strzok and Page were both dismissed from the investigation led by the then-special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump frequently denigrated the two leaders while he was president.
Strzok contends that he was unlawfully fired, while Page’s lawsuit claims that privacy violations occurred.
To find out if he met with and directly pressed FBI and Justice Department officials to fire Strzok, or if he directed any White House staff members to do so, Strzok’s attorneys are requesting Trump’s deposition.
The lawsuit filed by Page, who left her position as an FBI lawyer in May 2018, claims that the texts she exchanged with Strzok were unlawfully leaked and that Trump and his supporters have hurt Page’s reputation.