Peter Strzok, the former agent in the FBI whose political beliefs were eventually an excuse for Trump to incessantly target him, has sued over his ouster, and he is continuing to seek a deposition of Trump amid the discovery process.
The discovery process involves both sides collecting information relevant to the case. The Justice Department under Biden has been opposing Strzok’s push to depose Trump, no doubt in connection to general principles of protecting the independence of the presidency that haven’t necessarily been updated to the specifics and extreme circumstances surrounding Donald Trump. (Relatedly, the Justice Department in the Biden administration also continued with arguments in favor of political protections associated with the presidency covering statements Trump made in office about writer E. Jean Carroll.) In past filings, the Justice Department questioned the idea that Trump had a substantive role at all in Strzok’s firing, highlighting the issue as central — and in a more recent interview, Trump directly claimed he did have such a role, undercutting those very claims in his favor.
“And if I didn’t fire Comey, and if I didn’t fire McCabe and Strzok and Page and all of that scum that was in there, you would have had, they were trying to do an overthrow,” Trump told conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt earlier this month, and in a new court filing, Strzok pointed to these and other comments from the ex-president in further building out what exactly his team would be asking Trump if provided the opportunity for a deposition. “Mr. Strzok would question President Trump as to the veracity and basis for these and similar recent statements, his intent in making them, and his understanding of their likely or actual effects,” his filing said. If Trump’s testimony could outline that Strzok’s forced exit from federal service was in direct and substantive response to a political vendetta held by the then-president, then that sounds like the situation could constitute a violation of the ex-agent’s First Amendment rights.
Strzok’s filing also said he’d seek to question Trump about reports the then-president wanted to use the investigative resources of the federal government against the former agent. Relatedly, Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis was found formally in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution for removing southern Florida prosecutor Andrew Warren — who was elected by local voters — after Warren made statements like opposition to the prospect of bringing prosecutions in cases dealing strictly with abortion. (Florida has a 15-week ban in effect following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last year.) On the abortion front, there was no evidence Warren actually changed his handling of a single case, making the governor’s action responding to just Warren’s statements.