In a case involving two lawsuits brought by former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, a federal judge has rejected a motion made by Joe Biden’s Justice Department.
NBC News reported on Thursday that the DOJ was attempting to stop 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 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 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 referred to “newly available evidence” in their case.
Depositions involving Trump may proceed, according to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s decision on Thursday.
“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 pointed out that the testimony already offered did not appear to support the idea that Trump was directly to blame for Strzok’s dismissal. She did point out, though, that the previous president had “publicly boasted” about his involvement in the matter.
Prior to May 24, when Trump was scheduled to be deposed in connection with the cases, Jackson had approved blocking that date and backed the Justice Department’s request to depose Wray first. She did, though, reiterate the validity of her earlier choice to permit Trump’s deposition.
Strzok and Page were taken off of the investigation being conducted by then-special counsel Robert Mueller when it was revealed that the president had received important text exchanges in December 2017. In one conversation, Strzok implied that he and the agency would work to prevent Trump from winning the presidency and instead support his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Additionally, it was mentioned in reports that Strzok and Page once had a love connection.
They were subsequently let go from their jobs at the FBI as well.
Special counsel Jack Smith has filed 34 allegations against Trump relating to his handling of confidential documents after leaving office. As for the hush money payment he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election, District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted him on 37 counts in Manhattan.
Trump may also soon be charged with more offenses in Fulton County, Georgia, following allegations that he and his staff attempted to illegally influence the outcome of that state’s 2020 election.
District Attorney Fani Willis allegedly instructed her staff to work remotely from July 31 through August 18 and asked judges in a central Atlanta courthouse not to schedule any cases between August 7 and August 14, according to a letter acquired by The New York Times last month.
“The moves suggest that [Willis] is expecting a grand jury to unseal indictments during that time period,” the Times reported.