In what his lawyer calls a departure from FBI practice, agent Peter Strzok was fired today, presumably on orders coming from the White House. Strzok had led the FBI’s counter- espionage unit, which led him to be involved at some level with both the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump investigations. A watchdog group subpoened Strzok’s texts between him and his mistress Lisa Page, many of which were disparaging to Donald Trump, leading Strzok to play the villain in the “rogue FBI” motif that became a necessary part of Trump’s defense.
FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich ordered the dismissal, which went against a previous FBI recommendation that Strzok be suspended for 60 days. His willingness to opt for a maximumly severe punishment gives off the appearance that he bowed to political pressure, months after another Trump foil at the FBI, Andrew McCabe, was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions just days before being able to collect his pension.
Strzok headed up the FBI’s investigation into Russian electoral interference in 2016, and also led the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016. He was folded into Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia team before being dismissed after the texts were revealed.
In some ways, Strzok now becomes a greater danger to Trump outside the agency, and free to speak his mind as a civilian than when he was sill employed at the FBI. As government employee, he could not fire back at allegations made against him from the Right Wing, now he is able to respond, though he will still not be able to use material from the investigations.
Strzok was initially on the Mueller team, but Robert Mueller fired Strzok upon learning of the texts.
Strzok also gave a stand-out performance in front of withering and – at times – humiliating to the nation – cross examination by a House panel that had no agenda other than to tear into the man and his reputation. The attempt largely failed, with Strzok maintaining his composure, except in defense of gold-star families, when many in the nation would want someone to stand up strongly.
We will have more news throughout the day, particularly on the legality of the firing.