The Federal Bureau of Investigation has fired Agent Peter Strzok who helped lead the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election until officials discovered he had been sending anti-Trump texts.
Strzok’s lawyer said FBI deputy director David Bowdich ordered the firing on Friday – overruling the bureau’s office of professional responsibility and going against the recommendation of the career FBI official responsible for employee discipline, who had said Strzok should be suspended for 60 days and stripped of his supervisory responsibilities.
Naturally, Donald Trump was doing his usual Twitter happy dance over the dismissal of the 22 year veteran even though there was no evidence that his personal opinion effected his work.
Last month Strzok testified before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees where Republicans failed to discredit him after 10 hours of questioning. Strzok’s opening statement was a hard to rebut defense of the FBI’s objectivity in the investigation of the Russian interference with the 2016 election.
In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign. This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind.
That’s what FBI agents do every single day, and it’s why I am so proud of the Bureau. And I am particularly proud of the work that I, and many others, did on the Clinton email investigation. Our charge was to investigate it competently, honestly, and independently, and that is exactly what happened.
I’m also proud of our work on the Russian interference investigation. This is an investigation into a direct attack by a foreign adversary – and it is no less so simply because it was launched against our democratic process rather than against a military base. This is something that all Americans, of all political persuasions, should be alarmed by. In the summer of 2016, we had an urgent need to protect the integrity of an American Presidential election from a hostile foreign power determined to weaken and divide the United States of America. This investigation is not politically motivated, it is not a witch hunt, it is not a hoax.
So who is Peter Strzok and why is his firing a huge loss to the FBI. He was the former Chief of the Counterespionage Section and former Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, the second-highest position in that division. So it was not surprising that the investigation into the Russian hacking and possible conspiracy with the Trump campaign landed on his desk. His position was well earned as one of the lead agents is Operation Ghost Stories that culminated in the arrest of ten agents and a prisoner exchange between Russia and the United States on July 9, 2010.
Using forged documents, some of the spies assumed stolen identities of Americans, enrolled at American universities and joined professional organizations as a means of further infiltrating spies into government circles. Two of the individuals used the names of Richard and Cynthia Murphy and resided in Hoboken, New Jersey, in the mid-1990s, before purchasing a nearby home in suburban Montclair. Another couple named in court documents were journalist Vicky Peláez and a man using the name of Juan Lazaro in Yonkers, New York. The court filings allege that couples were arranged in Russia to “co-habit in the country to which they are assigned,” going as far as having children together to help maintain their deep covert status.
The criminal complaints later filed in various federal district courts allege that the Russian agents in the U.S. passed information back to the SVR by messages hidden inside digital photographs, written in disappearing ink, ad hoc wireless networks, and shortwave radio transmissions, as well as by agents swapping identical bags while passing each other in the stairwell of a train station. Messages and materials were passed in such places as Grand Central Terminal and Central Park.
The Russian agents were tasked by “Moscow centre” to report about U.S. policy in Central America, U.S. interpretation of Russian foreign policy, problems with US military policy, and “United States policy with regard to the use of the Internet by terrorists.” [..]
U.S. authorities arrested ten of the agents involved on June 27, 2010, in a series of raids in Boston, Montclair, Yonkers, and Northern Virginia. They charged the individuals with money laundering (which can carry a penalty of up to 20 years’ imprisonment) and failing to register as agents of a foreign government. No charges were offered that the individuals involved gained access to classified material, though contacts were made with a former intelligence official and with a scientist involved in developing bunker buster bombs.
One of the suspects using the name of Christopher R. Metsos was detained on June 29, 2010, while attempting to depart from Cyprus for Budapest, but was released on bail and then disappeared.
In her opening segment July 11, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow tells the story of the FBI spying on Russian spies in the U.S., “Donald Heathfield” and “Tracey Foley,” and notes the extensive biography of Agent Strzok, who led many of those operations.
There is no rational explanation for Strzok’s firing other than to try to discredit him for doing his job. Obviously, the FBI is now obstructing justice to protect Donald Trump for what is now obvious a conspiracy with Russia to get Trump elected.