The FBI has fired agent Peter Strzok, known for exchanging text messages vowing to prevent Donald Trump from being elected while investigating Hillary Clinton’s abuse of classified information and later alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia.
Strzok attorney Aitan Goelman said Monday the firing Friday “should be deeply troubling to all Americans,” asserting it violated the bureau’s standard practice.
Goelman said in a statement the FBI’s deputy director “overruled” the bureau’s Office of Professional Responsibility, FoxNews.com reported.
The discovery of Strzok’s text messages with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an extramarital relationship, led to the 21-year veteran’s dismissal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Goelman contended the deputy director “reversed the decision of the career FBI official responsible for employee discipline who concluded, through an independent review process, that a 60-day suspension and demotion from supervisory duties was the appropriate punishment.”
Strzok’s lawyer charged the decision also contradicts FBI 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.”
In one of his text messages, Strzok assured Page they would “stop” Trump from becoming president. And in another, they referred to a backup plan, an “insurance policy,” they could deploy if he were elected.
In June, the release of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review of the Clinton investigation led to Strzok’s removal from his office, where he was a counterespionage agent. Horowitz said he didn’t have concrete evidence that Strzok’s bias impacted the outcome of the Clinton investigation.
However, the IG said his team believed there could have been bias in Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Clinton investigation when thousands of Clinton emails were found on the laptop of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, the husband of Clinton’s top aide.
Horowitz told Congress that Strzok’s bias was “completely antithetical to the core values of the department and extremely serious.”
At a congressional hearing last month, a defiant Strzok insisted to skeptical Republican lawmakers his bias didn’t affect his work.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., tweeted Monday that Strzok’s firing is “long overdue.”
“Peter Strzok was fired because of what his own text messages plainly showed: he was willing to use his official FBI position to try and stop President Trump from getting elected.”
Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have accused Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of withholding information related to the Clinton and Russia probes, including certain texts between Page and Strzok.
Perhaps the most explosive texts revealed to date were part of an Aug. 8, 2016, exchange in which Page wrote, Trump is “not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”
Strzok replied: “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”
After Strzok’s testimony to Congress, Page confirmed in a closed-door meeting with lawmakers Congress members that when Strzok told her in a text message “there’s no big there there,” he was referring to the quality of the allegation of Trump-Russia collusion in the 2016 election.