A federal judge ruled Thursday that Donald Trump can be deposed in the lawsuit ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok brought against the Justice Department for his wrongful termination after the Russia investigation.
In the lawsuit, Strzok alleges Trump’s political vendetta against him – whom Trump criticized in tweets – led to his wrongful termination, and that the Justice Department wrongfully released text messages he exchanged with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Page is also suing. Trump has denied wrongdoing.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson agreed with the request to depose Trump.
“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,” Jackson wrote in a brief order.
The Justice Department has argued that Trump’s public attacks were not the reason for Strzok’s firing.
In recent days, DOJ had sought to block Trump from being deposed, arguing in court that his testimony wasn’t needed because FBI Director Chris Wray, Trump’s former White House chief of staff John Kelly and others had already testified about the decision to fire Strzok, distancing it from Trump.
“While to the extent the individuals deposed to date recalled the events in question, their testimony did not advance plaintiffs’ theory that the former President was involved in the decision making at issue in this case, the fact remains that the former President himself has publicly boasted of his involvement,” Jackson wrote.
The lawsuit, which Strzok filed in 2019, is only one of several ongoing lawsuits against the former president for actions he took and things he said while in office.
“Whatever the former President wished would become of Mr. Strzok is immaterial,” lawyers for the Justice Department wrote Wednesday, before Jackson decided. “Because it was [former FBI Deputy Director David] Bowdich who removed Mr. Strzok, the relevant questions are whether Mr. Bowdich or other pertinent officials at the FBI ever received any direction by the former President to discipline Mr. Strzok or any other expression of the former President’s displeasure about Mr. Strzok’s continued employment, or whether any such official at the FBI acted because of the former President’s public statements.”