Free speech applies to all Americans, whether you’re an FBI agent or not. The First Amendment is the foundation of American democracy.
Former FBI agent Peter Strzok was fired by the FBI last year after he sent dozens of text messages berating President Donald Trump, Politico reports. Strzok filed a lawsuit on August 6, 2019 accusing the Justice Department of violating his constitutional rights for firing him over private political speech. Strzok filed his lawsuit in federal court in Washington, DC.
Strzok was a counterintelligence investigator with the FBI for 22 years.
Strzok was fired in August 2018 after the Justice Department inspector general uncovered tens of thousands of text messages Strzok exchanged via his FBI issued phone from 2015 through 2017 with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page that called President Trump an “idiot” and a “disaster.”
The inspector general said the messages sowed doubts about the FBI’s work.
In June 2018, the Office of Professional Responsibility proposed that Strzok be terminated, due to the notoriety of the text messages. Two months later on Aug. 8, the head of that office instead recommended that Strzok be demoted and suspended for 60 days without pay.
Through tweets, President Trump urged that Strzok be fired, accusing him of sending “hate filled and totally biased” messages. The president further called Strzok a “sick loser,” “a fraud,” “incompetent,” and “corrupt.” President Trump even accused Strzok of treason.
“Trump’s public invective drove the government’s decision to terminate Strzok”, the lawsuit argues.
Strzok’s attorney Aitan Goelman says:
“It’s indisputable that his termination was a result of Trump’s unrelenting retaliatory campaign of false information, attacks and direct appeals to top officials.”
The lawsuit names as defendants both the Justice Department and the FBI and their top two officials, Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray. The lawsuit accuses the FBI of violating Strzok’s First Amendment right to free speech and his Fifth Amendment right to due process in firing him without providing an opportunity to appeal the decision.