This week, FBI agent Peter Strzok was fired by the deputy director of the FBI for sending anti-Trump texts during the presidential campaign. It was a harsher penalty than the demotion and 60-day suspension that the bureau's employee discipline office had recommended.
"It is a decision that produces only one winner — those who seek to harm our country and weaken our democracy," said Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s attorney, in a statement about the firing.
Who is Peter Strzok?
Peter Strzok had a 22-year career as an FBI agent. He was a specialist in espionage and counterterrorism work and was well respected in the bureau, racking up a string of successes. "No matter where Strzok was assigned, he found himself at the center of the biggest cases," reports the Washington Post. "He located the rental car abandoned by three of the 9/11 hijackers, helped arrest Russian spies living a secret life in the United States and supervised sensitive probes of CIA officers thought to have abused their positions."
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Strzok was also assigned to the 2015 investigation into whether Hillary Clinton had committed wrongdoing by using a private email server while secretary of state; no violations were found.
Why was Peter Strzok fired by the FBI?
Originally assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, Strzok was removed from the inquiry in July 2017 after an internal watchdog found anti-Trump texts between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an extramarital affair.
In August 2016, Page wrote Strzok that "Trump was not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Strzok responded: "No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it." He also called the prospect of Trump winning "horrifying."
The FBI investigator found that this outlook didn't influence either Strzok or Page to take any actions against Trump. But Trump insisted the discovery was evidence that the entire Russia investigation was biased against him.
Strzok was let go this week, the third top-ranking Justice Department official to be removed under Trump's Twitter fire. (The others were FBI director James Comey and deputy director Andrew McCabe.) His friends have started a GoFundMe page to defray his legal costs.