Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who worked on the Trump-Russia “collusion” probe and was dismissed after his personal anti-Trump texts were revealed, is suing the government over his firing.
In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Strzok accuses the Justice Department and the FBI of violating his First and Fifth Amendment rights by firing him over the text messages and refusing to let him challenge the decision.
Strzok, who was dismissed in August 2018, claims the decision was politically-motivated and came as a result of “unrelenting pressure” from President Donald Trump, who had sought to use the texts to prove bias existed against him within the FBI.
On various occasions, Trump lashed out at Strzok on Twitter, calling him a “sick loser” and a “fraud” who was working on a “rigged” investigation.
Strzok believes the anti-Trump messages, which he sent to fellow FBI employee Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, were protected political speech. In the most controversial exchange, Strzok told Page he would “stop” Trump from winning the presidency. In testimony before Congress last year, Strzok said the message had been written “late at night off the cuff” in response to some comments then-candidate Trump had just made.
Strzok claims that FBI Assistant Director Candice Will had originally recommended against firing him and instead suggested he be demoted and suspended without pay for 60 days. Despite the initial recommendation, however, Strzok was fired with immediate effect, which meant he was “deprived” of the opportunity to challenge and appeal the decision.
Strzok’s lawsuit claims there was a “concerted public campaign” to “disparage” and fire him following the “unlawful disclosure” to the media of the text messages. The DOJ did not disclose who at the department had authorized the release of the messages, but Strzok is hoping to find out as the case unfolds.
A report released last year by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz also accused Strzok of displaying a “biased state of mind” when he was part of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server.