You may remember Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who exchanged anti-Trump text messages with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, while Strzok was investing the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. Strzok also helped lead the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. He was fired last August, after the text messages were discovered.
Now, Strzok is suing the FBI over his firing.
“While many in law enforcement have faced attacks by this president, Pete Strzok has been a constant target for two years,” Aitan Goelman, a partner with Zuckerman Spaeder LLP and one of Strzok’s lawyers, said in a statement. “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.”
Goelman added: “The lawsuit shows that, in bowing to the president’s desires, FBI leaders trampled Pete’s free speech and due process rights in ways that should be deeply troubling to all in government, and indeed, to all Americans.”
It’s worth noting that there are multiple investigations being conducted on whether the FBI acted properly during the Russian investigation.
The lawsuit claims that FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich, who fired Strzok, was responding to “unrelenting pressure from President Trump and his political allies in Congress and the media.” It claims that pressure to fire Strzok included “constant tweets and other disparaging statement” from President Trump and direct appeals by Trump to former attorney general Jeff Sessions.
The lawsuit says the administration discriminated against his viewpoint by firing him even though other government officials who have supported Trump in the workplace have kept their jobs. It notes that the White House has not fired counselor Kellyanne Conway despite the determination that she violated the Hatch Act – a law that limits political activity by government workers – by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity.
The comparison between Conway and Strzok is apples and oranges. Legality of Conway’s comments aside, you have to look at their relative positions. Conway was Trump’s 2016 campaign manager and is now a counselor for the president; in other words, she works directly and specifically for a partisan administration and made comments about opponents of to that administration. Strzok, meanwhile, was an agent of the FBI, a supposedly impartial organization, and was charged with investigating someone he obviously had a hate-on for. There’s a pretty significant difference between the two situations.
On the surface, it looks like Strzok got what was coming to him, and his firing certainly seemed appropriate given his actions. I think this case may be an uphill battle for him.