Whatever happened to Peter Strzok, the disgraced FBI counterintelligence official involved in the investigation of Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign? After he was kicked out of the Bureau, this infamous Trump-hating G-man, who once claimed he could smell the former president’s supporters at Walmart, sued former Attorney General William Barr, FBI Director Chris Wray, and the FBI for wrongful termination. But who does Strzok ultimately blame for his ouster? None other than Trump himself, of course. The Department of Justice does not agree, though, and has blocked a subpoena to depose the 45th president. It could be the most aggressive case yet of Trump Derangement Syndrome; Strzok’s documented disdain for Trump is what got him fired and yet, even now, he is still apparently obsessed with the man who, according to comments contained within his own text messages, the former FBI agent seemingly hoped to prevent from becoming president.
Strzok in his lawsuit claims Mr. Trump had a role in his termination by “directly and indirectly [pressuring] FBI Director Wray and then-Attorney General Sessions to fire Special Agent Strzok when his text messages critical of the President were first disclosed.” He further alleges his firing was “the result of unrelenting pressure from President Trump and his political allies in Congress and the media.”
The text messages referred to, here, passed between Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page over the course of several months in 2016 and 2017. Neither of the two concealed their dislike of Trump or their fervent wishes that he would not make it to the White House. Page was terminated from the Bureau and also sued. Both officials were, at the time, involved in the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane counterintelligence operation which, essentially, was an investigation into Trump’s election campaign, alleged at the time to be in secret communication with the Russian government. Strzok himself was a key player in the opening of that investigation.
By the time the text messages came to light, Strzok was working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, appointed to basically pick up where the FBI probe left off. The FBI agent was removed from Mueller’s team in 2017 and terminated from the Bureau in 2018 by Deputy Director David Bowdich.
Though the anti-Trump texts led to his firing, Strzok has presented nothing more than an allegation that Trump demanded it. The Biden Justice Department acknowledges that if testimony from Wray or another witness suggests Mr. Trump’s involvement, the former president may be subpoenaed.
Until then, the DOJ argues, there is no indication that Trump influenced any decisions made by the several FBI officials who criticized Strzok’s conduct or recommended his dismissal. Further, the DOJ cites a precedent sometimes known as the “apex doctrine,” which holds that “high ranking government officials are generally not subject to depositions unless they have some personal knowledge about the matter and the party seeking the deposition makes a showing that the information cannot be obtained elsewhere.”
The Washington Examiner reports that the DOJ will convene a “joint status report and a status conference” on the Page and Strzok lawsuits later in April. Page sued over the release to the media of her text messages. At the time, it was also revealed that she and Strzok were having an affair – both were married. Strzok is asking for reinstatement at the Bureau, plus back pay.