Strzok, Fired by the FBI, Blames Trump and Republicans in Lawsuit

Susan Jones | August 9, 2019 | 9:10am EDT
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Then-Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok testifies before a joint committee hearing of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees on July 12, 2018. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

( - The lawsuit filed by former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok says he was unlawfully fired from the FBI on August 9, 2018, as the result of "unrelenting pressure from President Trump and his political allies in Congress and the media."

The lawsuit states: "The campaign to fire Strzok included constant tweets and other disparaging statements by the President, as well as direct appeals from the President to then Attorney General Jefferson Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Strzok, which were chronicled in the press."

Strzok, during his extra-marital affair with FBI attorney Lisa Page, sent hundreds of text messages to Page, some of them sharply critical of then-candidate Donald Trump and his supporters. At the time, Strzok was supervising the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.

Strzok later went on to lead the investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged coordination with Russia, which, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, turned out to be nothing: "The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its election interference activities," Mueller's report said.

Strzok's lawyer Aitan Goelman told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Thursday night that suing the FBI "wasn't easy" for Strzok, but he did it "for the other men and women who serve the country faithfully with the FBI and should not have their constitutional rights blithely overwritten by someone who is determined to turn the entire executive branch into his personal weapon to use against his political adversaries, real and imagined."

Maddow asked Goelman: "Does the president have the right to reach down into law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, and pluck out individual officials or agents who he believes are biased, who he believes have political views that will affect their work?"

Goelman responded:

Well, there's an act passed by Congress that governs what kind of political speech federal employees can and cannot exercise. And Pete's political speech in this case falls squarely within the permissible kind. But even if, you know, the president could do something like firing members of the executive branch, there's a process for that in each agency.

The FBI has its own process. And in this case, Pete Strzok engaged in that process, and we went through it, and there's a woman who is the assistant director in charge of the Office of Professional Responsibility, who's known throughout the bureau actually as kind of a hard ass. And she made the decision that Pete shouldn't be fired -- that he should be demoted from the Senior Executive Service, and that he should have a two-month suspension. And that's something that Pete accepted, he was willing to take that demotion.

And then after we'd already had a decision from the assistant director, after we already had a signed agreement, then the deputy director (David Bowdich) stepped in at the last minute and overruled that decision, reversed it and said Pete had to be fired. Something that I don't know of ever happening before. And certainly not unrelated to the dozens of hate tweets that President Trump directed Pete's way.

Some of Strzok's political views are well-known from his text exchanges with Page, which, according to the Justice Department inspector-general's report, "potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations."

That Justice Department IG report, released in June 2018, said some of the Strzok-Page text messages "expressed political opinions about candidates and issues involved in the 2016 presidential election, including statements of hostility toward candidate Trump and statements of support for candidate Clinton."

Goelman told Maddow they're not sure who leaked those texts, "but we intend to find out. It's clear that those texts were unlawfully leaked, violated the privacy act. The media got them before even the jurisdictional committees of Congress got them, and there's no exception under the privacy act allowing for that kind of record to be leaked to the media."

Strzok's lawsuit notes that he spent almost twenty-two years serving this country in the FBI and was promoted seven times, rising to become Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division.

"During his long and distinguished career in the FBI, Special Agent Strzok worked on (and in many cases led) some of the most high profile and sensitive investigations in recent history," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit does not mention that he was working on some of those highly sensitive investigations while carrying on an adulterous affair with fellow FBI employee Lisa Page, a potentially compromising situation for a chief counterintelligence agent.


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