In government documents released Monday, Peter Strzok — the famous “anti-Trump” FBI agent who was a central figure in the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the early stages of the Trump-Russia “collusion” probe — is accused by the Department of Justice of several “security violations” and “unprofessional conduct.”
Strzok sued the Justice Department in August for what he says was an unfair, politically motivated firing that was a result of, as one of his lawyers put it, “President Trump’s unrelenting retaliatory campaign of false information” against him.
“The decision to fire Special Agent Strzok in violation of his Constitutional rights was the result of a long and public campaign by President Trump and his allies to vilify Strzok and pressure the agency to terminate him,” reads the complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. on August 6. The Justice Department, Strzok claims, attempted to smear him in part by disclosing hundreds of text messages revealing his political bias and adulterous affair with FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
The Justice Department, however, maintains that Strzok has no case, its filing Monday intended to hammer home that message by outlining a series of flagrant offenses committed by the agent — “including his alleged practice of keeping sensitive FBI documents on his unsecured personal electronic devices, even as his wife gained access to his cellphone and discovered evidence that he was having an affair with former FBI attorney Lisa Page,” as reported by Fox News.
Among the offenses laid out by the FBI, was Strzok’s alleged “dereliction of supervisory responsibility” after Clinton’s emails were found on the laptop of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, husband of Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin.
“In its filing, the DOJ included an August 2018 letter to Strzok from the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which said in part that Strzok had engaged in a ‘dereliction of supervisory responsibility’ by failing to investigate the potentially classified Hillary Clinton emails that had turned up on an unsecured laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner as the 2016 election approached,” Fox News explains. “The situation became so dire, OPR said, that a case agent in New York told federal prosecutors there that he was ‘scared’ and ‘paranoid’ that ‘somebody was not acting appropriately’ and that ‘somebody was trying to bury this.'”
New York prosecutors were alarmed enough by the situation that they felt compelled to effectively bypass Strzok to get to then-FBI Director James Comey. The result was Comey announcing just days before the 2016 election that the Clinton email probe wasn’t over.
“Additionally, DOJ and OPR noted that although Strzok claimed to have ‘double deleted’ sensitive FBI materials from his personal devices, his wife nonetheless apparently found evidence of his affair on his cellphone — including photographs and a hotel reservation ‘ostensibly’ used for a ‘romantic encounter,'” Fox reports. “Strzok didn’t consent to turning over the devices for review, according to OPR, even as he acknowledged using Apple’s iMessage service for some FBI work.”
While the Justice Department has found him guilty of various security violations, dereliction of duty and unprofessional conduct, Strzok’s team has insisted that the agent was unfairly targeted by Trump and the department.
“While many in law enforcement have faced attacks by this president, Pete Strzok has been a constant target for two years,” Goelman said when his client first filed the lawsuit in August. “It’s indisputable that his termination was a result of President Trump’s unrelenting retaliatory campaign of false information, attacks and direct appeals to top officials.”
The DOJ counters in its motion that Strzok’s action undermined “the FBI’s ability to function as a trusted, nonpartisan institution,” and thus he deserved to be removed.
“It is because of those text messages, and the paramount importance of preserving the FBI’s ability to function as a trusted, nonpartisan institution, that Plaintiff was removed from his position, and not because of any alleged disagreement with Plaintiff’s viewpoints on political issues or Tweets from the President,” the department’s filing reads.