Nearly exactly a year ago, FBI counterintelligence maestro, adulterer, and texting lothario Peter Strzok was fired by the FBI. Strzok, who slithered onto the national stage as his vitriolically anti-Trump texts to his paramour became public even as he was working with Robert Mueller’s office, was fired for violating bureau rules :
The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility determined that Mr. Strzok broke bureau rules by sending politically charged text messages over his work phone, according to a person familiar with the matter. In another rules violation, the office found he improperly sent a draft affidavit to his personal email account to continue working on the document over a weekend, this person said.
Now Strzok has filed suit in federal court demanding reinstatement and restitution of monies owed to him for the time he didn’t work. I’m guessing he’s found he’s unemployable on the contracting circuit and he’s got bills to pay. This story, ironically, comes by way of Fusion GPS mouthpiece and reflexively anti-Trumper Natasha Bertrand.
In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Strzok excoriates the Justice Department and FBI for their handling of his dismissal over a trove of text messages he wrote to a colleague that were critical of Trump. Strzok accuses the president of inappropriately bullying law enforcement officials deciding his fate, raises questions about why his texts were leaked to the media and lambastes the administration for only defending its employees’ free speech rights when they are praising Trump.
Specifically, Strzok’s lawsuit accuses the agencies of violating his First and Fifth Amendment rights by firing him over the texts and then depriving him of due process to challenge his expulsion. And, Strzok argues, DOJ’s decision to give the incendiary messages to reporters before handing them to Congress — generating blaring headlines — was “deliberate and unlawful,” a violation of the Privacy Act.
Incredibly, Strzok, who sent hyper political messages on a government phone during government hours, is now claiming that the Hatch Act doesn’t really mean what it says it means:
Strzok’s lawsuit notes that while the Hatch Act prohibits certain political activities by government officials, officials should also “be encouraged to exercise” their right to political speech “fully, freely, and without fear of penalty or reprisal.” And because the FBI never asserted that Strzok violated the Hatch Act, Strzok’s speech was protected under the First Amendment, the lawsuit states.
I think this is more of a stunt than anything else. The rule violations were pretty clear cut. The Hatch Act violations were as clear-cut a case as you’re going to get. Ordinarily, fired federal employees are required to seek relief via the molasses-slow Merit System Protection Board before going to federal court. There is no mention of this happening and I’d think a negative MSPB finding would have been a news item. To what end? Who knows. The deputy FBI director had the authority to make the decision he did and the punishment was within permissible range. Strzok throws up a smoke screen about the agency being bullied into firing him by Trump but I’d think the discredit he brought on the FBI would be sufficient grounds.
Whatever the reason, Strzok faces a long and expensive uphill climb. Meanwhile, I hope he’s working doubles at Taco Bell to pay alimony.