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13 Aug, 2018 16:05

FBI fires Peter Strzok whose texts revealed anti-Trump bias amid Bureau's major probes

FBI fires Peter Strzok whose texts revealed anti-Trump bias amid Bureau's major probes

FBI agent Peter Strzok, who became a central figure in controversy surrounding investigations into alleged Russian meddling and Hillary Clinton’s private email server, has been fired, his attorney has said.

The 21-year FBI veteran was fired Friday afternoon, according to Strzok’s attorney Aitan Goelman.

“This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans,” Goelman said in a statement released on Monday, adding that the bureau’s deputy director had “overruled” the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility concerning Strzok’s case.

Strzok’s firing comes just days after President Donald Trump took to Twitter to denounce  him and other FBI officials as “clowns and losers” who have tarnished the reputation of the bureau.

Once the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, Strzok was one of the leads in the “Midyear Exam” investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure at the State Department, as well as the “Crossfire Hurricane” probe of claims that Trump had “colluded” with Russia during the 2016 US presidential election. In May 2017, he joined the team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller that took over the Russia investigation.

His name first popped up in the press in December, when it was revealed that Strzok had been removed from Mueller’s team and re-assigned to FBI’s Human Resources department. The Justice Department’s inspector general had found hundreds of text messages between Strzok and FBI special counsel Lisa Page, who were having an extramarital affair, revealing the duo’s hostility to Trump.

“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Page texted Strzok in one exchange in August 2016.

“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok replied.

The inspector-general’s report, released in June, found no “documentary or testimonial evidence” that Strzok and Page’s political bias affected their work, but conceded that “the conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation.”

In a testimony before two House committees last month, however, Strzok insisted he was not biased at all and had done nothing wrong. He was “particularly proud” of his work on the Clinton investigation, and described his texts with Page as driven by “deep patriotism.” At one point during the unsettling spectacle, Strzok admitted he was still employed by the FBI and holding a security clearance.

Cheering Strzok’s dismissal on Monday, Trump wondered if the “Witch Hunt” - the Mueller probe - will now be dropped, given that Strzok was “in charge” of it originally. He also raised the possibility of a repeat investigation into Clinton’s emails, given Strzok’s involvement in that as well.

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