The FBI has fired Peter Strzok, the agent notorious for sending biased text messages about then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 while investigating both Trump and his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Strzok’s lawyer, Aitan Goelman, said in a statement that the bureau fired Strzok on Aug. 10. The FBI, which does not usually comment on personnel actions below the executive level, declined to comment.
According to Goelman, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich fired Strzok. The bureau’s disciplinary branch recommended that Strzok should be suspended for 60 days and removed from supervisory duties, but Bowdich overruled that finding, Goelman said.
“The decision to terminate was taken in response to political pressure and to punish Special Agent Strzok for political speech protected by the 1st Amendment, not on a fair and independent examination of the facts,” Goelman said in the statement.
Strzok exchanged thousands of text messages with FBI lawyer Lisa Page during the course of an extramarital affair. In the texts, Strzok called Trump an ” idiot,” said that Clinton should win “100,000,000 – 0,” discussed an “insurance policy” in the “unlikely event” that Trump would win, vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president, and spoke of impeachment days after joining special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Strzok wrote some of the messages while investigating Clinton’s use of a private email server and the rest while investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, including as part of the special counsel probe. Mueller removed Strzok from the special counsel team upon learning of Strzok’s text messages.
In a message on Twitter, Trump suggested that the Clinton investigation should be redone.
“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!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Aug. 13.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018
In another message, Trump asked if the special counsel investigation, which took over Strzok’s probe, should be ended given Strzok’s termination.
“The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ [Department of Justice] gets longer & longer,” Trump wrote on Aug. 13. “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!”
Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI – finally. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018
In June, the Justice Department inspector general concluded in a report on the Clinton email case that the bias expressed by Strzok and a handful of FBI employees “cast a cloud” over the probe. However, the inspector general did not find evidence that Strzok’s bias influenced any investigative decision in the Clinton case. The inspector general is still investigating FBI and DOJ actions in the Russian probe.
Strzok issued a response on his Twitter account shortly after news of his termination broke. The spokeswoman for Strzok’s lawyer confirmed the authenticity of the Twitter account to the Daily Caller.
“Deeply saddened by this decision. It has been an honor to serve my country and work with the fine men and women of the FBI,” Strzok wrote.
Strzok accompanied his post with a link to a GoFundMe donation page, which raised more than $30,000 in four hours. The page describes Strzok as a “proud husband,” a veteran, and a hero.
President Trump has repeatedly lambasted Strzok and other senior officials who ran the bureau during the investigation of his campaign in 2016 and 2017, including then-FBI Director James Comey and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
“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!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Aug. 1.
Page resigned from the bureau in May. Trump fired Comey last year. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe in March. FBI Chief Counsel James Baker and Chief of Staff James Rybicki, both of whom were mentioned in the Page-Strzok texts, left the bureau.
“Never seen a federal agency where that’s happened,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote on Twitter.
Strzok’s FBI team along with senior bureau and DOJ officials obtained an intrusive warrant to spy on former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page over the course of 12 months. The secret court application for that warrant was based almost entirely on an unverified opposition research dossier. The dossier was compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele. The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for the dossier.
The officials who signed off on the secret court warrant applications failed to mention to the judges that Trump’s opponent in the election, Hillary Clinton, funded the dossier.
Like Strzok, Steele was also biased against Trump and wanted to do anything to “prevent” Trump from becoming president. The FBI cut ties with Steele in November 2016 for leaking to the media. Recently released emails between Steele and senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr show that Steele continued to feed information to the FBI long after the bureau prohibited him from collecting intelligence on its behalf.
According to Ohr’s notes, he met with Strzok and Page less than three weeks after Steele was terminated. Steele continued to use Ohr as a back channel to the FBI. The pair kept in contact for more than a year after the FBI terminated Steele.
Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for the same firm that hired Steele. The firm, Fusion GPS, received money from Russia for a different project while Steele was compiling the dossier. Congressional investigators have called on the couple to testify. Ohr’s hearing is on Aug. 28.
In July, Strzok defended himself for hours in testimony before a joint session of the House judiciary and government oversight committees. Strzok repeatedly asserted that “bias” is different “from personal political opinion.” At the hearing, Strzok refused to answer basic questions about the Russia investigation, citing restrictions placed on him by the FBI due to an ongoing investigation.
Update: the FBI responded to an Epoch Times request for comment with the following statement:
“Mr. Strzok was subject to the standard FBI review and disciplinary process after conduct highlighted in the IG report was referred to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). OPR reviewed the investigative materials, as well as the written and oral responses of Mr. Strzok and his counsel, and issued OPR’s decision. The Deputy Director, as the senior career FBI official, has the delegated authority to review and modify any disciplinary findings and/or penalty as deemed necessary in the best interest of the FBI.”