Former President Donald Trump has been instructed by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to participate in the questioning regarding two lawsuits filed against the Justice Department and FBI by two former officials who claim they were subjected to an improper political pressure campaign by the White House during his presidency, Reuters reports.
The judge has also ordered FBI Director Christopher Wray to undergo a deposition by attorneys for the officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
The judge has specified a limited set of topics for Trump and Wray to answer questions on, and President Joe Biden has until March 24 to determine if executive privilege will be invoked to restrict the scope of the depositions.
Strzok and Page were part of a group of FBI employees who exchanged critical text messages about Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and were prominently featured in Trump’s claim that the FBI was politically biased against him.
In 2019, Peter Strzok, an FBI special agent who was involved in investigations into Trump’s connections to Russia and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State, filed a lawsuit claiming that his firing in 2018 was the result of political pressure from Trump and that he was wrongfully terminated.
Lisa Page, a former senior FBI lawyer, filed a lawsuit regarding alleged privacy violations that occurred due to the leak of messages.
The Justice Department has contended that Strzok was fired for violating FBI policies and damaging the public’s trust in the bureau.
Both Trump and Christopher Wray, the FBI Director, had refused subpoenas to testify in depositions, arguing that Strzok had not met the high standard required to depose senior government officials by demonstrating that Trump and Wray had relevant information related to the case.
A hearing was held under seal on Thursday to address these issues, presided over by Judge Jackson.
Strzok’s lawsuit alleges that his firing was a violation of his protected speech under the U.S. Constitution and seeks reinstatement, back pay, and unspecified damages.
Meanwhile, Page is seeking at least $1,000 in damages due to privacy violations stemming from the leak of messages. Representatives for Trump and the U.S. Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Strzok’s lawyer also did not respond to a request for comment, while Page’s lawyer declined to comment. Trump has a history of resisting depositions in civil cases, but has been ordered to answer questions in lawsuits by E. Jean Carroll and New York state Attorney General Letitia James.
In the latter case, Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 400 times, asserting his right against self-incrimination.