A Washington, D.C.-based federal court of appeals on Friday dealt a blow to an argument that the Biden administration’s Department of Justice made in a bid to stave off a deposition of former President Donald Trump.
Former FBI agent Peter Strzok and his onetime lover, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, are suing the DOJ and bureau in separate lawsuits.
Strzok claims he was wrongfully terminated; Page, who resigned, is suing the agencies for allegedly unlawfully violating her privacy by releasing hundreds of text messages between the two in late 2017. Both plaintiffs want the 45th president to sit for a deposition.
In a February ruling, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Strzok could depose Trump and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
In May, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s DOJ filed a motion arguing against a court-ordered, two-hour-long deposition for Trump – at least until Wray is deposed first because “the Director’s deposition might obviate the need to depose the former President.” Additionally, the DOJ took the argument one step further – in favor of a broad interpretations of executive power.
The Garland-headed DOJ’s motion – granted as an emergency petition – argued Strzok had not sufficiently shown that “extraordinary circumstances” existed to overcome a longstanding bar on subjecting high-ranking American political figures to the usual trappings of the law.
“For decades, the D.C. Circuit and virtually every other court of appeals have recognized that subjecting high-level government officials — to say nothing of current or former Presidents — ‘to oral deposition is not normally countenanced,”” the motion said, going on to argue that courts of appeal typically side with the government in such cases.
On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied the DOJ’s emergency petition.
“Petitioners contend that the district court committed a ‘clear abuse of discretion,’ by authorizing respondents to depose former President Trump,” the order read. “Before authorizing the deposition, however, the district court held multiple hearings on the relevant issues, considered several rounds of additional briefing, and required respondents to exhaust other means of obtaining the information they sought. The district court limited the deposition to two hours, and to a narrow set of topics it identified.”
“Having employed particular ‘deference and restraint’ considering the separation-of-powers concerns at issue, the district court ultimately concluded that ‘extraordinary circumstances’ warranted the deposition of the former President,” the order went on. “Under these circumstances, petitioners have not shown that the district court’s conclusion was a clear abuse of discretion.”
Circuit Judge Cornelia Pillard, a Barack Obama appointee, and Circuit Judge J. Michelle Childs, a Joe Biden appointee, voted in favor of denying the DOJ’s request to keep Trump away from Strzok’s and Page’s lawyers. Circuit Judge Karen Henderson, a George H.W. Bush appointee, noted she would have granted the DOJ’s petition for a writ of mandamus.
The two former FBI employees were removed from their assignments in then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-running probe into Trump and his associates after the text messages came to light. Those messages not only revealed the office romance but also a certain degree of animus for Trump harbored by Strzok and Page.
Trump, for his part, is not a named defendant in either lawsuit. While in office, however, he frequently criticized both Strzok and Page. The lawsuits claim he was inappropriately involved in the ensuing scandal.
Marisa Sarnoff contributed to this report.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]
Peter Strzok can depose Donald Trump in suit: Appeals court
- Married At First Sight Australian star Jessika Power signs up for a major British reality show and will come face to face with the love rival who stole her husband
- ‘Real Housewives of Potomac’ Season 8 Trailer Teases Divorce Drama & Tears
- Episode 3062: Who Really Is Governing You
- Episode 3061: House Committee Starts Impeachment Inquiry Into The Bidens
- Lisa Marie Waldron sentenced for killing Jordan Brooks