Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson is allowing for depositions of both Donald Trump and Christopher Wray, who remains at the helm of the FBI after his selection for the post while Trump was in office, amid legal challenges from Peter Strzok and Lisa Page over the circumstances of their exits from federal service.
Both Strzok and Page were formerly at the Justice Department, and sentiments they shared in opposition to Trump preceded the ex-president using the figures as obsessive targets of his fury over the department daring to cross him at all. Ahead of Jackson’s decision, which went against the position stated even by the Justice Department under Biden, Strzok made an additional filing this month noting that Trump seemed to take credit for pushing Strzok and Page out of the Justice Department in a recent interview.
That’s a key part of Strzok’s legal challenge: examining the political motivations, assuming such inclinations existed, behind what happened. Trump’s comments directly undercut the argument from the Justice Department against hearing from him that hinged on the notion he actually wouldn’t be able to contribute anything substantive to a discussion of Strzok’s firing. He claimed he did it!
Jackson referenced a specified set of topics for the depositions for both Wray and Trump, but this information doesn’t appear to be available publicly. There is also an opportunity for President Joe Biden to assert executive privilege over portions of Trump’s prospective testimony, which will be confined to two hours, although there is a general precedent of Biden declining to make such invocations in examinations of Trump’s presidency. Still, the deposition of the ex-president might not be happening right away, since the judge gave the government a month to inform the court of the current president’s decision on executive privilege, besides acknowledging there were other areas of legal concern related to that privilege she hadn’t addressed. Those additional areas include presidential communications and the deliberative process.
“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 in an interview, and accordingly, Strzok’s recent filing said his team would hope to question the former president about “the veracity and basis for these and similar recent statements, his intent in making them, and his understanding of their likely or actual effects.” The court doc also cited reports about Trump hoping to use investigative powers in the federal government against political opponents of his including Strzok. Also at issue in the court challenges from Strzok and Page is the release of private communications between the duo.