A federal appeals court on Friday denied the Justice Department’s request to block former President Donald Trump from sitting for a deposition related to lawsuits filed by former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
In its ruling, a three-judge panel rejected the government’s effort to reverse a federal judge’s order this year saying Trump could be deposed for two hours in connection with the lawsuits.
The panel’s two Democratic appointees — Cornelia Pillard and J. Michelle Childs — said they wouldn’t block the deposition. Karen Henderson, who was appointed to the circuit court by former President George H.W. Bush, sided with the Justice Department’s request.
A Trump spokesperson and a lawyer for Strzok did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday night. Page’s attorneys said in an email to NBC News that “the order is very clear and speaks for itself.”
While in office, Trump was a frequent critic of Strzok and Page, who were taken off assignments in then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation after their text exchanges disparaging Trump became public in December 2017.
Strzok has alleged he was wrongfully terminated, while Page, who resigned as an FBI lawyer in May 2018, has argued that the public disclosure of her text messages with Strzok was a violation of privacy. Page has also alleged that “frequent attacks” from Trump and his associates have limited her earning capacity and hurt her reputation.
Government attorneys had argued that Trump’s planned deposition should be halted after a series of top federal officials delivered testimony that “revealed no substantial evidence” suggesting pressure from Trump had caused the wrongful firing of Strzok. FBI Director Christopher Wray is among those who have given a deposition.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who ruled this year that Trump could be deposed, said in a July order that while existing testimony didn’t appear to show that Trump played a role in terminating Strzok, the former president had “publicly boasted” about his involvement in the matter, which justified a closer look.