WASHINGTON – Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who said in a text message that he would help prevent President Donald Trump from ever winning the White House, was fired by the agency, local media reported on Monday.
According to a statement issued by his attorney – Aitan Goelman – and quoted in the press, FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich fired Strzok on Friday, although the head of the internal FBI office that generally deals with disciplining employees had decided Strzok only be demoted and suspended from his duties for 60 days.
The firing comes months after private texts surfaced in which Strzok and his girlfriend discussed Trump’s candidacy during the 2016 election campaign.
In those texts, an FBI lawyer with whom Strzok was pursuing a romantic relationship at the time asked him if Trump would ever become president and he responded that he would not because “we’ll stop” him.
Goelman said that the firing “isn’t the normal process in any way more than name,” adding “This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans.”
Strzok, a 22-year veteran of the FBI, helped lead the agency’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and participated in investigating the use of private e-mail servers by Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.
When the text exchange between Strzok and his then-girlfriend came to light, the FBI removed him from the Russia investigation, now being headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump has frequently used Strzok as a foil to attack the Mueller probe, which is examining alleged links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
True to form, Trump did not delay in reacting on Twitter to Strzok’s firing, tweeting: “Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI – finally. ... Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped?”
In a subsequent tweet, Trump said that Strzok “was in charge of the Crooked Hillary Clinton sham investigation. It was a total fraud on the American public and should be properly redone!”
In early August, Strzok testified before Congress and asserted that there is “no evidence of bias in my professional actions.”
Although he had been escorted out of the FBI building in June and relieved of all duties at the agency, Strzok had remained on the FBI payroll until his recent firing.