WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump is scheduled to be questioned under oath Tuesday as part of lawsuits from two former FBI employees who provoked the former president’s outrage after sending each other pejorative text messages about him.
Peter Strzok, who was a lead agent in the FBI’s investigation into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign, has alleged in a lawsuit against the Justice Department that he was wrongfully fired for exercising his First Amendment rights when he and a colleague traded anti-Trump text messages in the weeks before he became president.
Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer who texted with Strzok and had also been assigned to the Russia investigation, has sued as well, alleging that the Justice Department violated her privacy by disclosing copies of her messages with Strzok to members of the news media. She voluntarily resigned from the FBI in May 2018, and Strzok was fired several months after that.
Both allege that the Justice Department acted under unrelenting pressure from Trump, who repeatedly lambasted the pair on social media, publicly championed Strzok’s firing and accused him of “treason.” Lawyers for the two hope to be able to prove as part of their suits that Trump’s verbal tirades and appeals for action wrongly influenced the Justice Department’s punitive actions.
The Justice Department had sought to block the deposition of Trump as unnecessary, citing testimony from other witnesses who’d already been interviewed in the lawsuits that Trump had no impact on the decision to fire Strzok.
The department in court filings, for instance, has pointed to an interview with former FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich in which he said he made the decision to fire Strzok on his own, and that he did not recall FBI Director Chris Wray ever telling him about any meeting with Trump in which the president pressured him about Strzok.