The decision by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington came in a consolidated lawsuit filed by former senior FBI agent Peter Ströck and former FBI prosecutor Lisa Page against the FBI and the Justice Department.
Strzok is seeking reinstatement and back pay for what he alleges was unfair dismissal. The page alleges that authorities illegally released a batch of messages to reporters.
Jackson released his ruling in the four-year case after Strzok and Page’s attorneys indicated that they had completed interviews of subordinates and exhausted potential sources of information other than the former president and FBI director.
“The court authorizes the plaintiffs to have each witness testify for no more than two hours and be limited to a narrow set of specific topics,” Jackson ruled in a brief court announcement issued after Thursday’s closed-door hearing.
The proceedings are sealed, so the content of those depositions is confidential, though Jackson said a public transcript will be released later after removing references to any deposition testimony.
Jackson gave the Justice Department until March 24 to decide whether to invoke executive privilege on Trump’s behalf to protect the confidentiality of the president’s communications with top advisers under the Constitution’s powers clause.
A spokeswoman for Trump and attorneys for Stroke did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Attorneys for the side, Amy Jeffress and Kaitlin Konkel, declined to comment, saying the Justice Department and the F.B.I.
The judge’s ruling to impeach the former president over events related to the 2016 election comes as Trump and his allies are already beset by numerous legal issues stemming from the 2020 campaign and its aftermath. Several top Trump administration officials, including former Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, on Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US capital by Trump supporters and resisting subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in Justice Department investigations. Possession of classified documents at Trump’s Florida home, executive or legislative privilege. Many January. The 6 defendants — including members of the extremist group the Proud Boys, who are accused of treason — have launched long-running efforts to secure Trump as a witness in their trials.
Messages between Ströck and Page from 2016 discussed their intense dislike of Trump and their fears that he might win the presidency. They have fueled claims that the FBI has been biased against Trump since he went public in December 2017. The exchanges involved Trump and his supporters, including the pair and former FBI Director James P. Comey and others have sparked a flurry of angry tweets and public statements against them. His partner, Andrew McCabe.
A recent interview in which Trump bragged about firing those FBI officials may have factored into the judge’s ruling.
“If I hadn’t fired Comey, if I hadn’t fired McCabe and Ströck and Page and all that garbage, they would have tried to topple,” Trump said on February 2. On the Hugh Hewitt Show,
Announcing his 2024 bid for president, Trump added, “They spied on my campaign and I took them all out. … But … it was more than them, you know that. You know it will come back.
Strzok asserted in the lawsuit that the Trump administration tolerates partisan political speech by federal employees — but only if it praises Trump and attacks his opponents — and that his firing is “part of a broader campaign against the principle of free speech.” Former President.
‘You walked in here’: How anti-Trump speeches ruined the career of the FBI’s go-to agent
Strzok was once one of the bureau’s top intelligence and counterintelligence agents, investigating 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election. .
But during that job, Strzok and Page exchanged messages on work phones criticizing several politicians, particularly Trump, whom Strzok derided as “gross” and “disastrous.”
In August 2016, Page tweeted after Trump wrote “Never Going to Be President, Right? Right?!” Ströck replied: “No. No he isn’t. We will stop it. “
The Justice Department’s inspector general found that the message indicated a willingness to take official action to hurt Trump’s chances. Strzok was removed from the Russia investigation in August 2018 when messages from the FBI were discovered and deleted.
Ströck alleged in the lawsuit that others in the bureau did not receive similar discipline for criticizing Clinton, and he said the firing was “a direct result of relentless pressure from President Trump and his political allies on Capitol Hill.” Trump has repeatedly attacked Stroke, both publicly and privately, and called for his firing.
Strzok asserted in the lawsuit that his sentiments were “protected political speech” and that his firing violated the First Amendment.
Both Strzok and Page have accused the FBI and the Department of Justice of violating privacy laws by showing reporters a document containing nearly 400 texts between them.
Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.