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DOJ seeks to block Trump’s testimony in lawsuits against Strzok and Page


The Justice Department is seeking to halt a deposition with Donald Trump this month in lawsuits filed by two former FBI officials who were frequent targets of criticism from the former president.

In a redacted filing on Thursday, Justice Department attorneys said Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar had allowed an appeal to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., unless a judge ruled. a lower court will not reconsider an earlier ruling allowing Trump to depose ahead of a deposition with the FBI. Director Christopher Wray.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled in February that Trump and Wray could be deposed in lawsuits filed by Peter Strzok and Lisa Page against the Justice Department and FBI in 2019.

Lawyers for the Justice Department said in Thursday’s filing that they had just learned that Trump’s deposition was scheduled for May 24, ahead of any deposition for Wray.

“Contrary to the United States’ request, Mr. Strzok is seeking to depose former President Trump before Director Wray, making it impossible to determine whether the Director’s deposition could obviate the need to depose the former President,” they said. wrote Justice Department lawyers in a 10-page motion to block Trump’s deposition.

They asked the appeals court to settle the case by Tuesday.

Strzok’s attorneys declined to comment. Lawyers for Page and Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a court filing in March, the Justice Department said Trump “did not seek any assertion of privilege on any of the information within the scope of the authorized depositions.”

Jackson’s ruling in February said testimony by Trump and Wray must be limited to two hours and to a “restricted set of topics” that were discussed in a closed hearing.

Trump frequently targeted Strzok and Page during his presidency. They made headlines in December 2017 when it was announced that they had been removed from then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into text messages that disparaged Trump.

Page’s lawsuit alleges privacy violations and Strzok alleges wrongful termination, both citing posting text messages.

Page, who resigned as an FBI attorney in May 2018, argued in her lawsuit that the text messages she exchanged with Strzok were illegally distributed and that attacks by Trump and his allies harmed his reputation.

Strzok’s attorneys are seeking Trump’s deposition to determine whether he met with and directly pressured FBI and Justice Department officials to fire Strzok or whether he ordered White House staffers to do it.

If the deposition goes as planned, it would follow a federal jury’s finding in New York that Trump is liable for sexual abuse and defamation in a lawsuit filed by writer E. Jean Carroll . Trump has indicated he will appeal the verdict.

He also faces 34 counts of falsifying business documents related to silent payments from 2016. Trump pleaded not guilty last month to all charges.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.