Former FBI Agent Peter Strzok Sues FBI and DOJ, Claims Firing Was Due To "Unrelenting Pressure" From Trump

Former FBI Agent Peter Strzok is suing the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation over his firing in August 2018 after a scathing inspector general report detailed anti-Trump text messages he sent to an FBI colleague and romantic partner.

Strzok was involved in the FBI's high-profile Clinton email server and Russia investigations during the 2016 election. He was removed from the latter probe after the inspector general discovered text messages he exchanged with an FBI lawyer with whom he was having an affair that disparaged then-candidate Donald Trump and vowed to block his election.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday in the District of Columbia comes after Trump spent much of his early presidency lambasting Strzok "and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page." The FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility ultimately recommended Strzok's demotion and a temporary suspension, though Strzok's attorney has alleged that the FBI's deputy director overruled the office's decision and ordered his ouster.

.....Will the FBI ever recover it’s once stellar reputation, so badly damaged by Comey, McCabe, Peter S and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page, and other top officials now dismissed or fired? So many of the great men and women of the FBI have been hurt by these clowns and losers!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2018

Strzok alleged in his complaint on Tuesday that the decision by Deputy Director David Bowdich to terminate his employment over the department's recommendation came as a result of "unrelenting pressure from President Trump and his political allies in Congress and the media."

"The campaign to fire Strzok included constant tweets and other disparaging statements by the president, as well as direct appeals from the president to then-Attorney General Jefferson Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Strzok, which were chronicled in the press," the lawsuit alleges. "The concerted public campaign to disparage and, ultimately, fire Special Agent Strzok was enabled by the defendants' deliberate and unlawful disclosure to the media of texts, intended to be private, from an FBI system of records, in violation of the Privacy Act."

Strzok is claiming that the process by which he was terminated constitutes a violation of his First Amendment rights to free speech and an incursion on his due process rights because he was not provided an opportunity to appeal the decision.

Former FBI Counterintelligence Division Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok Testifies At House Hearing On 2016 Election
Then-Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok speaks during a joint committee hearing of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill July 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty

The inspector general's June 2018 report castigated Strzok and Page over concerns that text messages exchanged between the pair "potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations."

In August 2016, Page asked Strzok if Trump could ever become president. Strzok replied that "we'll stop" him from ascending to the White House. The report described their actions as a "willingness to take official action to impact [Trump's] electoral prospects."

However, the actual investigative decisions made by Strzok examined in the report were not the result of political bias, the report found.

The report also faulted then-FBI Director James Comey for an "extraordinary and insubordinate" decision to conceal from the Department of Justice his plans to hold a press conference describing the evidence in the Clinton email case, despite the lack of actual charges. Democrats contend that his July 5 announcement was an outcome-determining factor in the 2016 election.

Strzok is asking the court to order his reinstatement at the FBI and provide him back pay as a result of what he alleges is an improper termination.

In response to a request for comment, an FBI spokesperson told Newsweek that the bureau "doesn't comment on pending litigation."

The Department of Justice did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

This article has been updated to include a response from the FBI.