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Peter Strzok, FBI Agent Who Criticized Trump in Texts, Is Fired

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By Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt
New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — Peter Strzok, the FBI senior counterintelligence agent who disparaged President Donald Trump in inflammatory text messages and helped oversee the Hillary Clinton email and Russia investigations, was fired for violating bureau policies, Strzok’s lawyer said Monday.

Trump and his allies seized on the text messages — exchanged during the 2016 campaign with a former FBI lawyer, Lisa Page — in assailing the Russia investigation as an illegitimate “witch hunt.” Strzok, who rose over 20 years at the FBI to become one of its most experienced counterintelligence agents, was a key figure in the early months of the inquiry.

Aitan Goelman, his lawyer, confirmed Strzok’s dismissal.

In one message exchange, Page asks: Trump is “not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok responds: “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.” The inspector general, who uncovered the messages, found no evidence that the pair imposed their political views on their investigative decisions but cited that exchange as “not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.”

The report by the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, that preceded Strzok’s firing criticized his conduct in sending the texts; his use of personal email accounts to handle sensitive information; and a decision not to move swiftly enough to examine new emails related to the Clinton investigation just weeks before the 2016 election.

Horowitz said in his report that he was “deeply troubled” by the text messages. Hundreds exchanged over months were found in which the pair disparaged Trump and, to a lesser extent, Clinton, exchanged work gossip and bantered.

After Horowitz uncovered the text messages, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who had by then taken over the investigation, removed Strzok from his team last summer. He was reassigned to the FBI’s human resources division. Page, who had left Mueller’s team before the discovery of the text messages, quit the FBI in May.

Strzok’s dismissal was not unexpected. He is the second senior FBI agent to be fired as a result of the inspector general’s investigation. In March, Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director, was fired after the inspector general repeatedly faulted him for misleading investigators.