The case that’s opened the door to another hazardous Trump deposition

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It’s been a while since Peter Strzok and Lisa Page generated front-page headlines, but they were prominent figures in the investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. Strzok, for example, was the senior FBI official who helped lead the initial probe of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

In time, however, 2016 text messages he sent to former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, in which they disparaged the future president, came to light, and they were kicked off then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Page ultimately resigned in 2018, and the same year, Strzok was fired.

In the months and years that followed, Strzok and Page remained the target of Republican ire and conspiracy theories, and according to former White House chief of staff John Kelly, Donald Trump wanted the IRS and the Justice Department to go after Page and Strzok, even after their ouster from the FBI, during his presidency.

Their story, however, is far from over. Strzok filed a civil suit against the bureau, arguing that he was wrongfully terminated, while Page also sued, alleging privacy violations.

The litigation is ongoing, though as NBC News reported, there was a court development of note this week.

A federal judge on Thursday rejected an effort by the Justice Department to prevent former President Donald Trump from sitting for a deposition related to a pair lawsuits filed by former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The order, issued by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, D.C., is a victory for Strzok’s attorneys, who are seeking Trump’s deposition to determine whether he met with and directly pressured FBI and Justice Department officials to fire Strzok or urged any White House aides to do so.

Time will tell, of course, whether the allegations prevail in court. I’m of the opinion that Strzok has a credible case — he appears to have been fired outside the bureau’s normal disciplinary process — but there’s plenty of litigating still to come.

In the meantime, however, what I care about is the fact that Trump will be deposed in this case. This is of interest because the Republican’s depositions never seem to go well for him.

In 2021, for example, a court ordered Trump to testify under oath in a lawsuit brought by protestors who were allegedly roughed up by his security guards outside Trump Tower in New York. During his deposition, the former president said he feared protesters would hit him with tomatoes, pineapples, and other “very dangerous” fruit, declaring — in apparent seriousness —that “you can be killed if that happens.”

Trump also gave a deposition in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case, which went even worse for him. According to his testimony, which was featured during the trial, Trump considered himself a star, and he believed it’s “largely true” that stars have been able to get away with assaulting women “over the last million years … unfortunately or fortunately.”

In the same deposition, Trump confused Carroll with his second wife — undermining his indefensible rhetoric about his “type” — and struggled to remember the details of his adulterous past.

I can’t wait to see what Strzok’s lawyer gets him to say.

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He’s also the bestselling author of “The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics.”

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