Former FBI agent Peter Strzok on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the FBI and the Justice Department, accusing officials of caving to pressure from President Trump to fire him last year over texts he sent during the 2016 campaign disparaging Trump.
Strzok, who was fired last August, was thrust into the spotlight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation after anti-Trump texts between him and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an extramarital affair, were unearthed on his FBI-issued cell phone.
Strzok called Trump an “idiot” in the texts and at one point reassured Page that Trump would not win the election, writing, “No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”
The lawsuit claims the FBI violated Strzok’s First and Fifth Amendment rights by dismissing him over perceived bias in his texts, and denied him due process by refusing to allow him to challenge his firing. It further claims that the DOJ violated his right to privacy by leaking the text messages to reporters before Congress had seen them.
“The discharge decision was made by [FBI] Deputy Director David Bowdich, and was the result of unrelenting pressure from President Trump and his political allies in Congress and the media,” the suit said.
Strzok and Page were both members of the teams investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state and foreign interference in the 2016 election. Strzok would go on to work on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia.
Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz issued a 500-page report last year concluding that Strzok exhibited a “biased state of mind” during the Clinton investigation, a conclusion that led to the former agent’s firing. Initially, Candice Will, the director of the FBI’s Office of Personal responsibility, had recommended Strzok merely “be demoted and suspended for sixty days without pay,” according to the suit.