Special agent Peter Strzok on Monday confirmed that the FBI terminated his employment, presumably over messages disparaging then-candidate Donald Trump and his supporters during the 2016 presidential election.
Shortly after noon, Strzok posted a statement written by his lawyer Aitan Goelman of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, detailing the events surrounding his termination from the FBI conducted on Friday afternoon.
The full statement reads:
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.
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.
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. It is a decision that produces only one winner — those who seek to harm our country and weaken our democracy.
The FBI and the American people deserve better.
The fired FBI agent has launched a GoFundMe campaign aimed at raising $150,000 to pay for “hefty” legal costs and lost income. “We are asking you to support a man who has dedicated his life to defending America; to stand up for the freedoms on which this country was built and a government that truly serves the people by protecting all Americans, including dedicated government employees, from constantly being subjected to the whims and influence of politicians,” the campaign description reads.
The campaign has raised $41,060 as of 4:40 p.m. EST.
As previously reported, the long-awaited Justice Department inspector general report published in July on the FBI and DOJ’s handling of the Clinton email probe found Strzok had a “biased state of mind” while investigating the matter, yet did not find the agent’s personal views of Donald Trump or his supporters had impacted his conduct during the Clinton probe.
Communications exchanged between Strzok and Lisa Page, then an FBI lawyer and his purported mistress, detailed the 22-year bureau veteran’s robust dislike for Donald Trump’s White House bid. Among the most notable exchanges, Page asked Strzok: “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president right? Right?!” – to which he responded “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”
In addition, Justice Department investigators concluded Strzok’s personal animus toward Donald Trump may have led the FBI to slow-walk an inquiry into Clinton emails found on the laptop of Huma Abedin’s husband now-imprisoned New York Democrat lawmaker Anthony Weiner two months prior to the election. “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 call with [New York Office] was scheduled instead,” the Justice Department watchdog wrote.
The inspector general’s report further notes: “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.”
President Trump, a frequent critic of the Strzok, celebrated the agent’s firing with a pair of tweets while vowing to “fight back” against the Mueller investigation.
“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?” President Trump tweeted. “It is a total Hoax. No Collusion, No Obstruction – I just fight back!”