The FBI agent who headed up the investigation into Hillary Clinton's unauthorized email server and was eventually booted off the special counsel's investigation into Donald Trump over a series of overtly anti-Trump messages is now suing the bureau and the Department of Justice for what he says is wrongful termination.
"In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Strzok excoriates the Justice Department and FBI for their handling of his dismissal over a trove of text messages he wrote to a colleague that were critical of Trump," Politico reported Tuesday. "Strzok accuses the president of inappropriately bullying law enforcement officials deciding his fate, raises questions about why his texts were leaked to the media and lambastes the administration for only defending its employees' free speech rights when they are praising Trump."
Strzok's lawsuit claims that both his free speech and due process rights were violated when he was terminated by the Department of Justice after his politically biased messages emerged. The leaking of those messages, he says, also violated the Privacy Act.
After being dismissed in June 2018 following a series of reports exposing the agent's communications involving Trump with DOJ attorney Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was having an affair, Strzok's firing was made official in August after 22 years with the bureau.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed Strzok from the Russia probe after evidence revealed that the agent held strong political animus against Trump, thus threatening to undermine the legitimacy of the "collusion" investigation.
In a 500-page report released in June, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz condemned Trump-fired FBI Director James Comey's handling of the Clinton investigation and accused senior FBI officials, including Strzok, of having shown a "willingness to take official action” to prevent Trump from becoming president, The Washington Post reported.
"The inspector general did not find evidence supporting assertions made by the president and his allies that political bias inside the FBI had rigged the case to clear Clinton, but the report cited numerous instances of unprofessionalism, bias and misjudgment that hurt the bureau’s credibility," the Post reported. "In particular, the report singled out lead agent Peter Strzok as showing anti-Trump bias that could have affected his thinking on the case during the immediate run-up to the 2016 election."
Strzok's lawsuit in part focuses on the leaks of his text messages, which were featured in Horowitz's lengthy report. Among the leaked texts are messages in which Strzok and Page blast Trump as an "idiot," cheer on the prospect of a Clinton victory, express desperation that Trump is "not ever going to become president," and mention an "insurance policy" in case he gets elected. (See sample text messages below.)
After Strzok was officially fired in August, Trump unloaded on him on Twitter. "Fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok is a fraud, as is the rigged investigation he started. There was no Collusion or Obstruction with Russia, and everybody, including the Democrats, know it. The only Collusion and Obstruction was by Crooked Hillary, the Democrats and the DNC!" Trump tweeted in August. "Strzok started the illegal Rigged Witch Hunt — why isn't this so-called 'probe' ended immediately? Why aren't these angry and conflicted Democrats instead looking at Crooked Hillary?"
Below are some of the messages between Page and Strzok revealing political bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton compiled by The Washington Post:
April 1, 2016
Page: “So look, you say [to your wife] we text on that phone when we talk about hillary because it can’t be traced, you were just venting bc you feel bad that you’re gone so much but it can’t be helped right now.”
July 26, 2016
Page: "Yeah, it is pretty cool. [Clinton] just has to win now. I’m not going to lie, I got a flash of nervousness yesterday about trump. The sandernistas have the potential to make a very big mistake here …"
Strzok: "I’m not worried about them. I’m worried about the anarchist Assanges who will take fed information and disclose it to disrupt. We’ve gotta get the memo [on the findings of the Clinton email server investigation] and brief and case filing done."
July 31, 2016
Strzok: "And damn [the opening of the investigation into possible Trump-Russia collusion] feels momentous. Because this matters. The other one [the Clinton investigation] did, too, but that was to ensure we didn’t F something up. This matters because this MATTERS. So super glad to be on this voyage with you."
Aug. 6, 2016
Page: "This is not to take away from the unfairness of it all, but we are both deeply fortunate people. … And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace [in reference to Trump and possible collusion with Russia]."
Strzok: "Thanks. It’s absolutely true that we’re both very fortunate. And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps…."
Aug. 8, 2016
Page: "[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!"
Strzok: "No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it."
Aug. 15, 2016
Strzok: "I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s [Andrew McCabe] office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40."
May 18, 2017
Strzok: "For me, and this case [the Russia collusion investigation, which Strzok was a part of until being removed for bias], I personally have a sense of unfinished business. I unleashed it with [the Clinton investigation]. Now I need to fix it and finish it."
Strzok: "you and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely I’d be there no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there’s no big there there."
Nov. 9, 2016
Page: "Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society."