The senior FBI counterintelligence agent who played a key role in the Hillary Clinton email and Russian collusion investigations has been fired, his lawyer said yesterday.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on August 14, 2018

Strzok was removed from the investigation by Robert Mueller in July 2017 but Trump has maintained political pressure on the FBI to fire him completely. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revealed in June that he had been stripped of his security clearance.

On Twitter, Trump welcomed the move to oust Strzok. He said Strzok “was in charge of the Crooked Hillary Clinton sham investigation” and also suggested the entire investigation should be called off due to Strzok’s conduct. “It is a total Hoax. No Collusion, No Obstruction – I just fight back!” he continued.

The contentious messages were sent to Lisa Page, an attorney on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and came to light in an investigation by the Inspector General. In total, 375 text messages sent by Strzok were turned over to the House Judiciary Committee. They disparaged a range of politicians and public figures including Trump, then a presidential candidate, Chelsea Clinton, Obama era Attorney General Eric Holder and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

In one message, Stzok called Trump an “idiot”. Elsewhere, he wrote “God Hillary should win 100,000,000 – 0”.

In July 2018, Strzok was grilled on the messages at a heated congressional hearing. “At no time, in any of those texts, did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took,” he told members of Congress.

While Strzok’s colleagues maintained he had never shown any political bias in his work the messages raised doubts over his impartiality. The Wall Street Journal concluded the anti-Trump messages represented a small minority of the approximately 7,000 messages he sent and did not constitute any conspiracy against Trump. Per FBI guidelines, agents are free to hold and express political opinions as individuals.

Fallout from the firing of Peter Strzok

CNN Editor Chris Cillizza has suggested that little will change with Mueller’s investigation now that Strzok has been dismissed. “If anything, the Strzok firing will be cited as definitive proof — by Trump and his supporters — that the President was right all along about, well, everything as it relates to Mueller and Russia”.

Strzok’s lawyer Aitan Goelman criticised the move. “The decision to fire Special Agent Strzok is not only a departure from typical bureau practice, but also contradicts Director Wray’s testimony to Congress and his assurances that the FBI intended to follow its regular process in this and all personnel matters,” he said, referring to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans,” Goelman continued. “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.”

A group called The Friends of Peter Strzok has already set up a page at crowdsourcing platform GoFundMe to help Stzok pay his legal fees.

“Peter Strzok, a man who has spent his entire life working to help keep us and our nation safe, has been fired. He needs your help,” the page reads. At time of writing, more than US$78,000 has been pledged.