Trump on Strzok firing: ‘Finally’
President Trump on Monday responded to the news the FBI fired agent Peter Strzok, tweeting “finally” after the counterintelligence agent who faced scrutiny for disparaging text messages about Trump during the 2016 election was fired.
The president also questioned if the firing of the 21-year FBI veteran would lead to the end of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference since Strzok had initially worked on the probe.
“Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped? It is a total Hoax,” Trump tweeted.
Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI – finally. The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ gets longer & longer. Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped? It is a total Hoax. No Collusion, No Obstruction – I just fight back!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018
Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a lengthy 500-page report earlier this year that fiercely criticized Strzok for his conduct, saying he displayed a “biased state of mind” during a key phase of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Mueller promptly removed Strzok from his team after Horowitz’s internal review uncovered the critical text messages that disparaged Trump and his supporters.
Trump has repeatedly bashed Strzok, calling him a “sick loser” on Twitter.
Strzok’s lawyer, Aitan Goelman, on Monday confirmed the firing, which took place on Friday.
He blasted the decision in a statement, saying the “Deputy Director of the FBI overruled the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and departed from established precedent by firing 21-year FBI veteran Peter Strzok.”
“The decision to fire Special Agent Strzok is not only a departure from typical Bureau practice, but also contradicts Director [Christopher] Wray’s testimony to Congress and his assurances that the FBI intended to follow its regular process in this and all personnel matters,” Goelman said in a statement.
Strzok has faced a barrage of attacks from Trump and Republicans after the revelations he had sent messages critical of Trump during the 2016 presidential race to then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The two were having an extramarital affair at the time.
GOP critics said Strzok’s texts with Page were clear evidence of anti-Trump bias. They argue the pair’s disdain toward Trump may have influenced two of the FBI’s key probes, given Strzok’s central role in both the investigation into Clinton’s emails and his role in the beginnings of the special counsel probe.
Democrats and Strzok’s lawyer have claimed that the attacks on Strzok are an attempt to undermine the special counsel’s probe.
“It is a decision that produces only one winner — those who seek to harm our country and weaken our democracy,” Goelman’s statement continues.
One of the most explosive revelations from Horowitz’s report was a text Strzok sent to Page in which he said they will “stop” Trump from becoming president.
Horowitz, however, said his investigative team found no evidence that any decision made during the course of the investigation was a result of political bias or improper influence. Nonetheless, the report found that those actions cast a cloud over the department and was deeply critical of FBI and DOJ leadership.
Goelman emphasized that there is no evidence to support saying that Strzok’s personal views, which fall under his First Amendment rights, ever impacted his work.
“A lengthy investigation and multiple rounds of Congressional testimony failed to produce a shred of evidence that Special Agent Strzok’s personal views ever affected his work,” Goelman says.
“In fact, in his decades of service, Special Agent Strzok has proved himself to be one of the country’s top counterintelligence officers, leading to only one conclusion – the decision to terminate was taken in response to political pressure, and to punish Special Agent Strzok for political speech protected by the First Amendment, not on a fair and independent examination of the facts.”
–Updated at 12:48 p.m.
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