The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to block a judge’s decision allowing former President Donald Trump to enter a plea related to a pair of lawsuits brought by former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
In a filing with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, government attorneys argued that the US district judge “substantiated evidence” to suggest that Strzok was wrongfully fired under pressure from Trump.
Strzok’s lawyers have pushed for Trump’s statement as part of a 2019 lawsuit against the FBI and the Justice Department to determine whether Trump met with and pressured FBI and Justice Department officials to fire him or urged him. White House aides to do so.
The Justice Department also said Tuesday in a separate court filing that it would no longer intervene on Trump’s behalf in a defamation lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll. Trump sat for a deposition last year in a separate lawsuit brought by Carroll.
Jackson last week denied the Justice Department’s request that it reconsider its earlier decision that Strzok’s lawyers could go ahead with Trump’s statement. The Justice Department had argued in favor of the «summit doctrine,» which says officials are generally not bound to make statements unless they have some personal knowledge of the matter and the information cannot be obtained elsewhere.
In Tuesday’s 43-page filing, the government’s lawyers further hammered that point, saying that depositions in civil litigation involving current and former senior government officials about their professional duties are permitted only in «extraordinary circumstances» and that Strzok’s demand «falls well below that standard.» .”
The Justice Department also highlighted others who have already made statements in the case, including former Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Jackson had previously agreed to the Justice Department’s request to testify to FBI Director Christopher Wray before Trump in the case.
In a statement Tuesday, Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, said Jackson’s ruling was «consistent with both binding precedent and the interests of justice.»
“The lengths to which the administration has gone to prevent this statement is astounding and suggests that its real concern is what Mr. Trump will say, rather than the interests that underlie the Apex Doctrine,” Goelman said.
«It is particularly telling that the government insisted that the plaintiffs first remove the current FBI director, despite all the demands on his time, to the former president, who has repeatedly bragged about ‘getting rid of’ Agent Strzok, a man who dedicated his career to protecting this country.»
A Trump spokesperson and Page’s attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday night.
Strzok and Page were removed from then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation after text messages critical of Trump were released in December 2017.
Trump often belittled Strzok and Page while in office. Strzok claims he was wrongfully terminated, while Page alleges privacy violations. Page, who resigned as an FBI attorney in May 2018, argues in her lawsuit that the text messages she exchanged with Strzok were illegally disclosed and that attacks by Trump and her associates damaged her reputation.
Their cases have been consolidated for discovery purposes.