Fired FBI agent Peter Strzok sues for back pay and to get his job back
Posted August 6, 2019 3:22 p.m. EDT
CNN — Peter Strzok, the fired former FBI agent who played a senior role in the early Russia-Trump campaign investigation, is suing the Justice Department for back pay and to get his job back, according to a lawsuit he filed in DC District Court on Tuesday.
Strzok claims his termination in August 2018 came because of political pressure on the FBI from President Donald Trump after he criticized Trump and made political comments in text messages in 2016.
Lawmakers received five months' worth of recovered messages between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page last August, the same month that Strzok was fired. Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina then released specific extracts in September, which he argued -- in a letter to the Justice Department -- "suggest a coordinated effort on the part of the FBI and DOJ to release information in the public domain potentially harmful to President Donald Trump's administration."
Strzok also alleges in Tuesday's lawsuit that the Justice Department illegally released his intended-to-be-private text messages to the media in a violation of his right to privacy.
"The Trump Administration has consistently tolerated and even encouraged partisan political speech by federal employees, as long as this speech praises President Trump and attacks his political adversaries," his complaint said.
He called his firing "viewpoint discrimination" and claims it is part of "broader campaign against the very principle of free speech underlying the First Amendment, initiated and led by a President" who attacks the media, wants some opinions censored and prompted the withdrawal of Strzok's and others' security clearances, according to the lawsuit.
Aitan Goelman, an attorney for Strzok, said in a statement that Strzok "has been a constant target for two years," calling it "indisputable that his termination was a result of President Trump's unrelenting retaliatory campaign of false information, attacks and direct appeals to top officials."
"The lawsuit shows that, in bowing to the President's desires, FBI leaders trampled Pete's free speech and due process rights in ways that should be deeply troubling to all in government, and indeed, to all Americans," Goelman added.