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FBI Fires Peter Strzok, Poster Child for Troubled Russia Probe

2018-08-13 23:28
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. 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!" 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 i