FBI fires Peter Strzok after discovery of anti-Trump texts, lawyer says

The longtime agent was once a well-respected member of the federal agency 

Chris Riotta
New York
Monday 13 August 2018 17:12 BST
Peter Strzok explains his anti trump texts

The FBI has fired agent Peter Strzok, who helped lead the agency's investigation into Russian election meddling before he was discovered sending anti-Donald Trump text messages, his lawyer has said.

In a statement, Mr Strzok's lawyer, Aitan Goelman, said that the firing had been ordered by FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich on Friday - despite the director of the office in charge of employee discipline deciding that Mr Strzok should face a demotion and a 60-day suspension.

Mr Goelman alleged that the decision to "terminate was taken in response to political pressure."

“The decision to fire Special Agent Strzok is not only a departure from typical Bureau practice, but also contradicts Director [Christopher] Wray’s testimony to Congress and his assurances that the FBI intended to follow its regular process in this and all personnel matters.”

Mr Strzok, a 22-year veteran of the department, had exchanged anti-Trump texts with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he had an affair, during the 2016 presidential campaign. Ms Page no longer works for the FBI. Both worked on the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email server while secretary of state, and also on special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The veteran agent had been respected in the bureau, but when a Justice Department inspector general investigation uncovered the politically charged messages, he was relegated to a position in human resources. The texts had started in August 2016, around a week into the Russia probe.

While the details of that report were released later, when Mr Mueller became aware of the texts he removed Mr Strzok. That removal, which occurred last summer, was revealed in December 2017 in the wake of a number of news reports about the texts.

“Immediately upon learning of the allegations, the Special Counsel's Office removed Peter Strzok from the investigation,” said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel's office in December. “Lisa Page completed her brief detail and had returned to the FBI weeks before our office was aware of the allegations.”

Conservatives soon made Mr Strzok the face of their attacks against the special counsel investigation into the president’s campaign, and the FBI took steps to remove him from its ranks.

The president celebrated Mr Strzok’s firing on Twitter, there was a growing list of “bad players” in the FBI and Department of Justice (DoJ).

“Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI - finally,” Mr Trump wrote on Monday afternoon, shortly after the firing was made public. ”The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ gets longer & longer. Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped? It is a total Hoax”.

“No Collusion, No Obstruction - I just fight back!” he continued.

Mr Trump has repeatedly signalled that Mr Strzok’s text messages are evidence of an existing bias throughout the federal agency, which is responsible for investigating Russia’s suspected coordination with Mr Trump's campaign officials during the 2016 election.

When news broke about Mr Strzok’s text messages and his involvement in the investigation that cleared Hillary Clinton of criminal charges, the president tweeted, “'ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON EMAIL PROBE’ Now it all starts to make sense!”

The president repeated those claims on Monday, writing in a follow up tweet, “Just fired Agent Strzok, formerly of the FBI, was in charge of the Crooked Hillary Clinton sham investigation. It was a total fraud on the American public and should be properly redone!”

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