The Return of Peter Strzok: How a Fired FBI Official Is Making the Case Against Himself

Peter Strzok is back in the news this week. Career colleagues at the Justice Department previously referred Strzok for possible criminal charges and he was fired for his bias and unprofessional conduct. However, Strzok was immediately embraced by many in the media and establishment for his anti-Trump sentiments. After he was fired, the former special agent was given a lucrative book deal, lionized on the left, featured prominently as an expert by CNN, and given a teaching job at Georgetown. It was an extraordinary recovery from a scandal where he showed flagrant bias, engaged in an affair with another married colleague at the FBI, and fought to continue to investigate Russian collusion claims despite early warnings over the questionable basis of the allegations pushed by the Clinton campaign. (Strzok’s colleague and former paramour, Lisa Page, was given a contract as a legal analyst with NBC and MSNBC). Now, Strzok appears liberated in showing precisely the bias and unhinged hostility alleged by his critics. He has been in the news lashing out at Trump and trolling his objections to the raid on Mar-a-Lago.

The seizure of Trump’s passports has raised more doubts about the seemingly unlimited scope of the search. One of the passports taken in the raid was Trump’s active diplomatic passport, according to an email from the Justice Department made public by the Trump team. The  other two passports reportedly were expired.

Last week, Strzok was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon with CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell, who blasted out a tweet claiming DOJ sources refuting Trump’s claim that the FBI took his passports. The “CBS Evening News” anchor reported that the Department of Justice did not have Trump’s passports, tweeting, “According to a DOJ official, the FBI is NOT in possession of former President Trump’s passports.”

CBS News anchor Norah O'Donnell suggested the Department of Justice did not have Trump's passports, tweeting, "According to a DOJ official, the FBI is NOT in possession of former President Trump's passports."

In fact, the FBI did take the passports and had to later return them. The clear import of O’Donnell’s tweet was that Trump was lying. That was clearly the message received by various critics, including Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who is purportedly serving as an unbiased member of the January 6th committee. Kinzinger, R-Ill., wrote, “Lies lies lies and more lies.”

Notably, Strzok was also among those eager to spread the O’Donnell report, tweeting, “And unsurprisingly, Trump’s statement turns out not to be true.” He later deleted it.

Strzok has sounded at times like a virtual troll on social media. Recently, he again lashed out at the story that the FBI took Trump’s passport and mocked Trump’s call to lower the temperature in the country after the raid. Strzok tweeted “Please oh please keep asking how you can turn down the temperature in the country,. And why does he have two passports? The Russian passport, of course, is kept in a vault at Yasenevo and only swapped out at third country meets, so it can’t be that one.”

Strzok often seems to lack any self-awareness of his past controversy. He has been on MSNBC defending the raid and insisting that “absolutely the American public should trust what the FBI is doing.” He insisted that any doubts over the FBI’s objectivity are ridiculous: “It’s not that the FBI is targeting any one side or the other. What you see is the FBI going out on a day-in, day-out basis objectively investigating allegations of law.” Yet, it is Strzok’s own conduct that had led to many having doubt about the motivation and independence of the department.

Strzok’s bias and violation of FBI rules led to career Justice Department investigators referring his case to prosecutors and ultimately led to his firing from the FBI. His emails showed intense bias against Donald Trump and highly concerning statements about having an “insurance policy” in place if Trump were to win the election.

On January 4, 2017, the FBI’s Washington Field Office issued a “Closing Communication” indicating that the bureau was terminating “CROSSFIRE RAZOR” — the newly disclosed codename for the investigation of Michael Flynn.  Strzok intervened.

Keep in mind CROSSFIRE RAZOR was formed to determine whether Michael Flynn “was directed and controlled by” or “coordinated activities with the Russian Federation in a manner which is a threat to the national security” of the United States or a violation of federal foreign agent laws.  The FBI investigated Flynn and various databases and determined that “no derogatory information was identified in FBI holdings.” Due to this conclusion, the Washington Field Office concluded that Flynn “was no longer a viable candidate as part of the larger CROSSFIRE HURRICANE umbrella case.”

On that same day, however, Strzok instructed the FBI case manager handling CROSSFIRE RAZOR to keep the investigation open, telling him “Hey don’t close RAZOR.”  The FBI official replied, “Okay.” Strzok then confirmed again, “Still open right? And you’re the case agent? Going to send you [REDACTED] for the file.” The FBI official confirmed: “I have not closed it … Still open.” Strzok responded “Rgr. I couldn’t raise [REDACTED] earlier. Pls keep it open for now.”

Strzok also wrote FBI lawyer Lisa Page, the same person Strzok had referenced his “insurance policy” to in emails. Strzok texted Page: “Razor still open. :@ but serendipitously good, I guess. You want those chips and Oreos?” Page replied “Phew. But yeah that’s amazing that he is still open. Good, I guess.” Strzok replied “Yeah, our utter incompetence actually helps us. 20% of the time, I’m guessing :)”

That exchange is not as disconcerting as Strzok’s actions.  After a finding of “no derogatory information,” Strzok reached for the Logan Act and sent a research paper on the notoriously unconstitutional law.

As with those like Laurence Tribe claiming a “slam dunk” case for conviction before any real evidence, let alone a charge, there is a familiar pattern to this coverage. Many of us have said that there could be criminal conduct revealed by this raid, but we simply do not know. There is much that we do not know to establish such a case, let alone speculate on its outcome. That is why some of us have called for greater transparency from the Justice Department, including the release of substantive portions of a redacted affidavit.

For his part, Strzok appears eager to confirm the allegations made against him. Yet, these public statements only fuel the concern of many that the raid was another “insurance policy” by the FBI. For his former colleagues at the FBI, Strzok’s trolling can hardly be a welcomed addition to the public controversy over their investigation.

245 thoughts on “The Return of Peter Strzok: How a Fired FBI Official Is Making the Case Against Himself”

  1. I spent many years in local law enforcement, and when I was working, my take on the FBI was that they could be incredibly useful in helping out on request, even if they did seem to be a bit too concerned with taking credit. We used to say that the most dangerous place for a cop to be was “between an FBI agent and a TV camera.” But aside from that, we generally resected those guys.

    Now I’m not so sure. Their willingness in recent years to allow themselves to be weaponized for political purposes, and their record of lying and altering evidence leaves me unwilling to trust anything they say or do. I now wonder if I was always wrong in my assessment of their bbehavior.

  2. We wait and wait and wait and complain and complain and complain but no justice is done………..people like Strozk actually get ‘rewarded’ with media roles. Durham is ‘getting there’ and meanwhile people who wandered around the Capital building languish in prison. WTF is going on?!

    1. Repubs promise to more hearings, which really aren’t needed at this point, whether it’s over the fbi, border control, Fauci, DOD, or the IRS.

      Reduce funding first, hold the hearings later.

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