US judge orders Trump’s removal in lawsuits filed by former FBI officials
By Andrew Goudsward
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Thursday ordered former President Donald Trump to be questioned in two lawsuits against the Justice Department and the FBI by two former agency officials who claim they are the target of an inappropriate political pressure campaign by his White House been .
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that FBI Director Christopher Wray must also sit for testimony from attorneys for couple Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were among a group of FBI officials who were critical of text messages during the 2016 presidential campaign exchanged Trump.
The judge, in a brief order, said Trump was to ask questions on a “narrow range” of subjects for two hours and that Wray was to be questioned under the same limited parameters. Jackson gave President Joe Biden until March 24 to decide whether to invoke executive privilege to limit the scope of questioning in the statements.
Strzok and Page were instrumental in Trump’s claim that the FBI was politically biased against him.
Strzok, an FBI special agent who worked on investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, sued in 2019, claiming his 2018 firing was the result of political pressure from Trump. His lawsuit alleges wrongful termination.
Page, who resigned her position as a senior FBI attorney, sued over alleged privacy violations stemming from the leak of the messages.
The Justice Department has argued that Strzok was fired for violating FBI policies and undermining trust in the FBI.
Both Trump and Wray had resisted subpoenas to appear for testimony, arguing that Strzok failed to meet the high bar for removing senior government officials by showing that Trump and Wray had relevant information on the case.
Jackson held a sealed hearing Thursday to hear arguments on these issues.
Strzok’s lawsuit alleges he was fired for expressing his opinion protected under the US Constitution and is seeking reinstatement, back pay and unspecified monetary damages. Page is seeking at least $1,000 in damages.
Trump and the US Department of Justice officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A lawyer for Strzok did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An attorney for Page declined to comment.
Trump has declined to sit for testimony in civil matters but has been urged to attend court hearings by writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of sexual assault, and New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into his family business.
In the latter case, Trump declined to answer questions and invoked his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution more than 400 times.
(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone)