FBI fires Peter Strzok: Special agent sent anti-Trump texts during 2016 campaign

Embattled FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok has been fired according to a statement Monday by Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman.

Strzok was caught having an affair with a now former FBI attorney, Lisa Page, with whom he exchanged tens of thousands of text messages including those in August 2016 in which he insulted the GOP presidential nominee and vowed to “stop” his election to the White House while simultaneously leading the Bureau’s Russian interference investigation.

“Late Friday afternoon, the Deputy Director of the FBI overruled the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and departed from established precedent by firing 21-year FBI veteran Peter Strzok. In doing so he 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,” Goelman’s statement read.

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

Just moments after the news broke, President Trump weighed in via Twitter:

Trump continues the push the narrative the DOJ’s Russia investigation is a hoax and that the firing of Strzok — who only worked on the investigation for a matter of months — should somehow negate the validity of the entire probe.

Moments later, Trump also suggested because of Strzok’s work on the Hillary Clinton email investigation, that, it too, should be negated and “redone.”

Other Republican leaders weighed in on the Strzok firing:

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the firing was “long overdue.” Majority Whip Steve Scalise responded with, “It’s about time.”

Comments from Democrats were harder to come by, but Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) tweeted:

DeSaulnier’s statement seemed to mirror Strzok’s attorney’s sentiments regarding the motivation for the firing:

“This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans. A lengthy investigation and multiple rounds of Congressional testimony failed to produce a shred of evidence that Special Agent Strzok’s personal views ever affected his work. In fact, in his decades of service, Special Agent Strzok has proved himself to be one of the country’s top counterintelligence officers, leading to only one conclusion – the decision to terminate was taken in response to political pressure, and to punish Special Agent Strzok for political speech protected by the First Amendment, not on a fair and independent examination of the facts.”

The career FBI agent also received support from an unlikely source. The son of Virginia’s retiring 6th District congressman, Bob Goodlatte, expressed his embarrassment over his father’s involvement in “ruining” Strzok’s career and thanked him for his service:

The younger Goodlatte is actively campaigning against the GOP, raising money for Democrat Jennifer Lewis, who is seeking his father’s seat.

While Strzok has apologized for sending the messages, the now ex-FBI agent maintains his political opinions in no way affected his investigations.

Strzok’s lawyer has posited that if his client had truly intended to prevent Donald Trump’s election, he could have leaked the fact that Trump’s campaign was under investigation for possible coordination with Russia, as such a revelation might have been sufficient to end his presidential campaign.

 

[Washington Post] [Wall Street Journal] [New York Magazine] [Photo courtesy Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via Los Angeles Times]