FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing about worldwide threats, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., April 14, 2021.
Graeme Jennings | Reuters
A federal judge ordered Thursday that former President Donald Trump can be questioned in sworn testimony by attorneys for ex-FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page as part of their lawsuits related to the government’s disclosure of their private text messages.
Trump and current FBI Director Christopher Wray can each be deposed for two hours on a “narrow set of topics” that were hashed out during a sealed hearing earlier in the day, Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote in an order in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
But there are still some lingering questions about executive privilege to be resolved, the judge noted. She gave the Department of Justice until March 24 to specify whether President Joe Biden will invoke executive privilege over the specified topics.
An attorney for Page declined to comment. A lawyer for Strzok did not immediately respond to CNBC’s questions about the judge’s order.
Trump regularly attacked Strzok and Page starting in 2017, following the revelation that the pair sent anti-Trump texts while they were employed by the FBI and having an affair.
Strzok, at the time a top FBI counterintelligence official, was removed from a DOJ probe of Russian election meddling following then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s discovery of his texts. Strzok was fired in 2018.
Strzok and Page filed separate civil lawsuits in 2019 against the Justice Department and FBI. Strzok alleged he was fired “because of his protected political speech” in violation of his constitutional rights.
The decision “was the result of unrelenting pressure from President Trump and his political allies in Congress and the media,” Strzok’s legal complaint alleged. His lawsuit seeks relief including “reinstatement and back pay.”
Page, who resigned as an FBI lawyer in 2018, alleged in her own lawsuit that the DOJ violated the Privacy Act by “unlawfully disclosing agency records” when it shared her texts with the press.
The release of the texts turned Strzok and Page into villains on the right, with critics — including Trump — holding them up as proof of deep-rooted anticonservative bias in powerful government institutions.
Shortly before the DOJ opened the Russia inquiry in 2016, Strzok texted Page, “F Trump.” Strzok had also texted Page during the 2016 election that Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, “should win 100,000,000-0.”
Strzok’s lawsuit noted that an investigation by the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General found no evidence that his work was affected by political bias.
Trump frequently targeted Strzok and Page on Twitter as he criticized the Mueller probe, which was also looking into possible collusion between the Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.
“How can the Rigged Witch Hunt proceed when it was started, influenced and worked on, for an extended period of time, by former FBI Agent/Lover Peter Strzok?” Trump tweeted in July 2018.
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