Strzok claims FBI, DOJ violated his free speech, privacy rights

Former FBI agent Peter Strzok, a onetime member of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's Russia probe, is claiming the FBI and Justice Department violated his rights of free speech and privacy when firing him for uncovered texts that criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE.

Strzok and his legal team made the claims in a court document filed Monday that pushes back on the Department of Justice's (DOJ) motion to dismiss the lawsuit he filed in August over his ouster a year earlier.

DOJ alleged in its motion to dismiss that Strzok’s role in high-profile investigations meant he was held to a higher standard when it came to speech. But Strzok’s legal team disputed this in Monday’s filing, saying that the approximately 8,000 other employees in similar positions retain their privacy even when using government-issued devices.

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“The government’s argument would leave thousands of career federal government employees without protections from discipline over the content of their political speech,” the filing said.

“Nearly every aspect of a modern workplace, and for that matter nearly every non-workplace aspect of employees’ lives, can be monitored,” it added. “The fact that a workplace conversation can be discovered does not render it unprotected.”

Strzok’s team also accuses the bureau and DOJ of only punishing those who condemn Trump, as “there is no evidence of an attempt to punish” those who verbally backed the president ahead of the 2016 election.

The FBI declined to comment, saying the bureau does not comment on pending litigation.

"It doesn't matter who you are — someone, like Pete, who has devoted his whole life to protecting this country, or a Gold Star family, or a Purple Heart winner, or a lifelong Republican who spent 5 years as a POW in North Vietnam. If you dare to raise your voice against President Trump, he and his allies will try to destroy you," Strzok attorney Aitan Goelman said in a statement to The Hill.

Strzok was fired after the Justice Department released 2016 texts he exchanged with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, where he called Trump an “idiot” and both openly hoped he would fail to get elected.

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Trump praised Strzok’s removal and has repeatedly pointed to the exchanges with Page as evidence of government bias against his administration. 

The DOJ released the texts between Page and Strzok in December 2017, which Strzok said Monday was a “deliberate and unlawful” violation of the Privacy Act.

The texts previously got Strzok removed from Mueller’s investigation team. 

Page also filed a suit against the FBI and DOJ earlier this month for allegedly violating her privacy. 

—Updated at 3:43 p.m.