DOJ Tries to Protect Trump from Testifying in Lawsuit over FBI Firing

Peter Strzok testifying on The Hill.

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department asked a federal court to prevent Donald Trump from being deposed in a lawsuit related to two former FBI officials who allege they were unfairly targeted because they investigated the former president’s ties to Russia. 

The cases involve senior FBI Agent Peter Strzok and former bureau lawyer Lisa Page, who filed separate lawsuits against the FBI and Justice Department after the public release of their text messages, which showed they were having an affair and disliked Trump. 

Strzok, who was fired, alleges he was unfairly terminated. Paige, who resigned, claims the release of the text messages violated her privacy rights.

The DOJ’s filing with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia comes after U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Strzok’s attorneys could depose Trump.

In the 43-page filing, DOJ attorneys argued that Trump was protected from depositions by the “apex doctrine,” which says officials can avoid depositions unless they have some personal knowledge of the matter and the information can’t be obtained elsewhere, NBC News reports

The lawsuit in this case “falls short of that standard,” government attorneys argued. 

Strzok’s lawyer Aitan Goelman said Jackson’s ruling was “consistent with both binding precedent and the interests of justice.”

“The lengths to which the government has gone to prevent this deposition is striking and suggests that their true concern is what Mr. Trump will say, rather than the interests that underlie the Apex Doctrine,” Goelman said in a statement Tuesday.

“It is particularly telling that the government insisted that Plaintiffs first depose the current FBI Director, despite all the demands on his time, before the former President, who has repeatedly bragged about ‘getting rid’ of Agent Strzok, a man who devoted his career to protecting this country.”

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