KBO

Strzok Out: Media Mourns

Two months after he was escorted from FBI headquarters, disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok has been fired. The G-man tied to the Clinton email server probe, the Trump-Russia collusion investigation and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team (and one of the investigators who interrogated former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn) was dismissed by the agency’s deputy director, who overruled an internal recommendation that the defiant public servant be suspended and demoted.

A lengthy report issued by the Justice Department’s Inspector General in June disclosed hundreds of damning text messages sent between Strzok and his alleged lover, FBI counsel Lisa Page. Not only did the texts express animosity towards Trump and his voters, as well as a clear preference for Hillary Clinton, the IG concluded the communications “indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations . . . the implication in some of these text messages . . . was that Strzok might be willing to take official action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.” The report suggested Strzok prioritized the politically-motivated counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign (which officially began on July 31, 2016 although top DOJ officials, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey, started the process months earlier) over the Anthony Weiner laptop investigation. The IG also discovered that Strzok used a personal email account to conduct official business and sent a draft of a search warrant affidavit (under seal by a federal prosecutor) and a grand jury subpoena to his private account.

Congress held a combative hearing with Strzok last month; he quickly became the face of the powerful and unaccountable “Deep State” that many Republicans believe conspired to discredit Donald Trump’s candidacy and destroy his presidency once he was elected. (Strzok and Page exchanged many texts after the election, expressing hope Trump would be impeached or resign.) Strzok now is added to a long list of Justice Department officials either fired, demoted, or forced to resign/retire amid the unraveling Trump-Russia collusion scheme.

But it was mere moments before the Deep State co-conspirators in the media rushed to Strzok’s defense. The New York Times portrayed Strzok as a victim of President Trump’s “unfounded assertions that a so-called deep state opposed to him was undermining his presidency.” The Washington Post claimed Strzok was fired over “anti-Trump texts” and suggested the firing was purely political: “Conservatives soon made Strzok the face of their attacks against the special counsel investigation into the president’s campaign, and the FBI took steps to remove Strzok from its ranks.” CNN reported that Strzok has been “seized on by Republicans as evidence of anti-Trump bias in the bureau and those investigating potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.”

Strzok unconvincingly insisted his texts did not shape any action he took at the FBI. But the inspector general believes otherwise: Strzok currently is under investigation to determine whether his political bias influenced the initiation of the FBI’s Trump-Russia collusion probe just weeks before the 2016 election.