(CNSNews.com) - Are you really surprised that they fired your client? CNN's Chris Cuomo asked Aitan Goelman, the attorney representing fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok.
"At the end of the day, I was really surprised that they fired Pete, mostly because we had an agreement with the FBI OPR, Office of Professional Responsibility, which is their main caretaker for internal discipline that Pete would get a 60-day suspension and a demotion. And at the last minute, that was countermanded by the higher-ups, and he was fired. So, yeah, we were surprised," Goelman said on Monday night.
Goelman said the FBI had the "power" but not the "right" to fire Strzok.
"Certainly the deputy director and the director can countermand a decision by OPR, but it doesn't happen very often, and in this case it is hard to reach any conclusion other than the decision to reverse OPR's decision was itself motivated at least largely by politics."
Goelman said it was "completely inappropriate" for the president to call for the firing of Strzok. Whereas James Comey was a political appointee who could be fired at will, Peter Strzok was a career civil servant. "There is a normal process that is followed for disciplining civil servants, federal employees, and that process was followed here but in form only, not in substance, and that's what our big objection is."
Cuomo asked the attorney if Strzok really wanted to remain at the FBI. Strzok was having an extra-marital affair with fellow FBI employee Lisa Page, with whom he exchanged thousands of catty text messages, criticizing the people with whom they worked as well as Donald Trump and Trump supporters.
"He did want to stay," Goelman said. "He loved the Bureau. He loved his job. He's very committed to protecting the country, and he was a great counterintelligence agent. I mean that is pretty much the consensus across the board. So I don't think he necessarily would have wanted to work on, you know, the next high-profile political investigation, but in terms of, you know, going after spies from our adversaries who are undermining American national security, that's what motivated him -- that is what he was good at. And that's what he wanted to continue doing."
Goelman said Strzok was receiving mostly hate mail before he testified before Congress. But afterwards, "Pete's actually gotten an outpouring of support...and then since the firing was announced, he has been really gratified by a lot of messages of support from across the country."
FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich fired Strzok, telling him the decision was "final," Goelman said.