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Ex-FBI officials can depose Trump and his former bureau director

The lawsuit by Peter Strzok and Lisa Page has been building toward a crescendo for over three years.

WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge opened the door Thursday for Donald Trump and Christopher Wray, his former FBI director, to be deposed in a case where a former deputy director and a lawyer for the bureau say their investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election made them political targets.

The order was given this afternoon in a sealed hearing at the Washington federal courthouse. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson authorized counsel for Peter Strzok, an FBI former assistant deputy director, and Lisa Page, a former FBI attorney, to conduct limited depositions of Trump and Wray.

Details from the public court docket state that depositions are not exceed two hours for either witness, "and are limited to the narrow set of topics specified on the record at the hearing."

Strzok and Page filed sued the bureau separately, but their cases have since been consolidated. Both argue that the FBI and the Department of Justice violated the Privacy Act in 2017 when the department invited select members of the media to review a 90-page document of 375 text messages between Page and Strzok.

The text messages revealed Page and Strzok had an extramarital affair and that they both made disparaging comments about Trump, who at that time was in the first year of his term as president. Page and Strzok allege that the department and the FBI released their messages as a deliberate scheme to seek Trump's favor.

Strzok brought his lawsuit in August 2019, arguing he was fired over the comments without the opportunity to appeal the bureau’s decision to the Disciplinary Review Board. He seeks reinstatement and back pay.

Page filed her complaint a few months later in December, one day after the Justice Department’s inspector general released a report finding their messages did not compromise the Russia probe, dubbed Crossfire Hurricane. Page claims the report came too late, and she seeks damages for violations of the Privacy Act, arguing that the release of the messages made her subject to frequent attacks by Trump and his allies.

Judge Berman Jackson refused Trump’s bid to dismiss the lawsuits in September 2020 and noted in her ruling that she found it “somewhat jarring” that the government invoked the Freedom of Information Act in defending its release of the Page and Strzok communications. 

The Obama appointee ordered Strzok and Page to alert the court by March 24 as to whether Trump will invoke executive privilege.

Strzok is represented in the case by Christopher MacColl of Zuckerman and Spaeder and by Richard Salzman of Heller and Huron. Page is represented by Amy Jeffress of Arnold Porter. They did not respond to requests for comment.

Follow @EmilyZantowNews
Categories / Government, Law, Politics

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