The attorney for FBI agent Peter Strzok, who had helped lead the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, says he was dismissed on Friday. The FBI discipline unit had said he should be demoted and suspended for 60 days.
The FBI fired agent Peter Strzok, who helped lead the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election until officials discovered he had been sending anti-Trump texts, the Washington Post reports. Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s lawyer, said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich ordered the firing on Friday even though the FBI office that normally handles employee discipline had decided Strzok should face only a demotion and 60-day suspension. Goelman said the move undercuts the FBI’s assurances that Strzok would be handled in the normal disciplinary process.
The termination marks a remarkable downfall for Strzok, a 22-year FBI veteran who investigated Russian spies, defense officials accused of selling secrets to China and other important cases. Strzok was integral to two of the bureau’s most high-profile investigations: the Russia case, and the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. When the Justice Department inspector general uncovered politically charged messages that Strzok had exchanged with another FBI official, he was relegated to a position in human resources. Conservatives made Strzok the face of their attacks against the special counsel investigation into the president’s campaign. Strzok’s job had been precarious since last summer, when Inspector General Michael Horowitz told Special Counsel Robert Mueller that the lead agent on his team had been exchanging anti-Trump messages with an FBI lawyer. The next day, Mueller expelled Strzok from the group.