The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) terminated special agent Peter Strzok on Friday, according to reports.
Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, says the firing was ordered by FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich, after the department which oversees personal disciplinary matters ruled the disgraced FBI agent would face a “demotion and 60-day suspension.”
Strzok was one primary subject in the highly anticipated Justice Department inspector general report released in July on the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) handling of Hillary Clinton email investigation, which found the now-fired agent possessed a “biased state of mind” and a “willingness to take action” during the probe.
Text messages exchanged between Strzok and then-FBI lawyer and his alleged lover, Lisa Page, showed the now-fired agent disdained Donald Trump’s candidacy during the 2016 presidential election. Among the explosive exchanges, Page sent a text message to Strzok asking “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president right? Right?!” Strzok replied, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”
Justice Department officials wrote Strzok’s anti-Trump bias may have caused inaction following the discovery of Clinton emails on the laptop of disgraced New York Democrat Congressman Anthony Weiner in September 2016.
“Text messages of FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok indicated that he, McCabe, and Priestap discussed the Weiner laptop on September 28. Strzok said that he initially planned to send a team to New York to review the emails, but a conference all with [New York Office] was scheduled instead,” According to the timeline laid out in the inspector general’s report.
The report further states: “Additional discussions took place on October 3 and 4, 2016. However, after October 4, we found no evidence that anyone associated with the Midyear investigation, including the entire leadership team at FBI Headquarters, took any action on the Weiner laptop issue until the week of October 24, and then did so only after the Weiner case agent expressed concerns to [Southern District of New York], prompting SDNY to contact the Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) on October 21 to raise concerns about the lack of action.”
Rather than probe the newly discovered emails, Strzok opted to further investigate possible collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. “[We] did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the [Clinton investigation]-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias,” the report said.
Despite casting “a cloud over the entire FBI investigation,” the inspector general report concluded there existed no evidence to suggest Strzok’s decisions during the Clinton probe were tainted by political bias.
Goelman issued a highly critical statement after the watchdog report’s release, describing its conclusion as both “bizarre” and “critically flawed,” asserting his client had not acted on any political biases.
“In facts, all facts contained in the report lead to the conclusion that the delay was caused by a variety of factors and miscommunications that had nothing to do with Special Agent Strzok’s political views,” Goelman said in a statement. “The report itself provides indisputable evidence that, when informed that Weiner’s laptop contained Clinton emails, Strzok immediately had the matter pursued by two of his most qualified and aggressive investigators.”
Following the discovery of Strzok’s anti-trump text messages in the summer of 2017, the 22-year FBI veteran was reassigned from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to the agency’s Human Resources department.
On July 12, Strzok publicly testified before House Judiciary and House Oversight Committee members over his role in the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference, pushing back on allegations his personal views of President Trump impacted the outcome of the Clinton email probe. “The suggestion that I’m in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards, and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me — it simply couldn’t happen,” Strzok told congressional investigators.
Although Strzok is no longer an employee of the FBI, his legal troubles are far from over. One week after the disgraced FBI agent’s public testimony, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) told reporters that Page’s closed-door testimony yielded new leads in its investigation into the FBI’s surveillance of the Trump campaign and handling of Hillary Clinton email probe. “I think there are significant differences between their testimony about important material facts. She gave us a lot of new information that we didn’t have before. That will lead us to ask for some more people to make some more requests for information we do not yet have,” Ratcliffe said. “On many cases, she admits that the text messages mean exactly what they say as opposed to agent Strzok, who thinks all misinterpreted his own words on any text message that might be negative.”
During his testimony, Strzok repeatedly claimed the anti-Trump text messages, including some describing President Trump as an “idiot” and a “disaster”, did not result in political bias during the Clinton or Russia investigations. The veteran FBI agent lamented the toxicity surrounding his circumstances, telling lawmakers that his testimony was evidence that a sustained Russian campaign to meddle in America’s political process was proving successful. “I have the utmost respect for Congress’ oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”
Strzok and Page have frequently drawn the ire of President Trump and Republicans lawmakers over there explicit bias exhibited during the Clinton email probe.
“Russian Collusion with the Trump Campaign, one of the most successful in history, is a TOTAL HOAX. The Democrats paid for the phony and discredited Dossier which was, along with Comey, McCabe, Strzok and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page, used to begin the Witch Hunt. Disgraceful!” The president tweeted on August 1.
Russian Collusion with the Trump Campaign, one of the most successful in history, is a TOTAL HOAX. The Democrats paid for the phony and discredited Dossier which was, along with Comey, McCabe, Strzok and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page, used to begin the Witch Hunt. Disgraceful!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2018
”Will the FBI ever recover it’s once stellar reputation, so badly damaged by Comey, McCabe, Peter S and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page, and other top officials now dismissed or fired? So many of the great men and women of the FBI have been hurt by these clowns and losers!” The Commander-in-Chief wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
…..Will the FBI ever recover it’s once stellar reputation, so badly damaged by Comey, McCabe, Peter S and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page, and other top officials now dismissed or fired? So many of the great men and women of the FBI have been hurt by these clowns and losers!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2018