A federal judge ruled Thursday that former President Donald Trump can be deposed in a pair of lawsuits brought by two former FBI officials whom he has long publicly disparaged.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, D.C., ruled that former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page would also be permitted to question FBI Director Christopher Wray.
The depositions must be limited to two hours and to a “narrow set of topics” that were discussed at a sealed hearing Thursday, the ruling said.
Strzok and Page, who were frequent targets of Trump during his presidency, filed separate lawsuits in 2019 against the Justice Department and the FBI alleging, in Page’s case, privacy violations and, in Strzok’s case, wrongful termination.
Strzok and Page made headlines in December 2017 when it was announced that they had been removed from then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation over text messages that criticized Trump, including a message that referred to him as “a loathsome human.”
Page’s lawsuit had argued that the text messages she exchanged with Strzok were released unlawfully. She also said attacks by Trump and his allies damaged her reputation, which limited her earning capacity, in addition to costing her an undisclosed amount in legal and therapy fees. Page resigned as the FBI’s counsel in May 2018.
Page declined to comment on the judge’s ruling.
A spokesperson for the FBI said, “In an effort to protect the integrity of pending litigation, the FBI has no comment.”
Strzok’s lawsuit argued that he was wrongly terminated for having sent private text messages critical of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In one exchange, when Page asked for reassurance that Trump wouldn’t be elected, Strzok replied: “No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
Trump had highlighted the text messages as evidence that the Russia investigation was a “witch hunt,” and he repeatedly demanded publicly that Strzok be fired.
The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility had recommended he be suspended and demoted for 60 days. But the FBI’s deputy director at the time, David Bowdich, overruled the decision, fired Strzok and denied him the opportunity to appeal, which Strzok said violated FBI guidelines.
In his lawsuit, Strzok, a veteran of the FBI for more than two decades, sought reinstatement, back pay and other damages.
Jonathan Allen, Dareh Gregorian and Michael Kosnar contributed.