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Peter Strzok Sues DOJ for Violating His First Amendment Rights

Peter Strzok Sues DOJ for Violating His First Amendment Rights

Strzok asserts wrongful termination over his anti-Trump texts with his mistress.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfOEoDNkzWY

Former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who lost his job after the discovery of his anti-President Donald Trump texts, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice and FBI for wrongful termination and violating his First Amendment rights.

Background

Strzok worked on the FBI’s investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the Russia probe.

The texts between Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page came to light after the DOJ inspector general discovered them last year. The texts described Trump as an “idiot” and “disaster.”

The inspector general wrote that the texts “sowed doubts about the FBI’s work,” but did not “find evidence that political bias affected the outcome.” Strzok insisted to Congress that he never let his personal views “affect his official actions.” The Wall Street Journal continued:

The handling of Mr. Strzok’s case was the subject of some dispute within the FBI. The Office of Professional Responsibility last June proposed that Mr. 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 Mr. Strzok be demoted and suspended for 60 days without pay, citing similar circumstances involving other FBI officials and Mr. Strzok’s record at the FBI, the complaint said.

That determination cited “the fact that you were assigned to two very stressful and high-profile investigations during the time of your misconduct,” and praise from management that described Mr. Strzok as “an extremely talented and intelligent investigator, gifted agent, and hardworking employee,” according to the complaint.

The next day, Mr. Strzok was fired. The FBI’s no. 2 official, David Bowdich, overruled the earlier determination and said Mr. Strzok’s “sustained pattern of bad judgment” in using his FBI device called into question the decisions he made in the two investigations, the complaint said.

The Lawsuit

Strzok filed his lawsuit in a federal court in Washington, DC. The lawsuit states the FBI fired him “because of his protected political speech in violation of his rights under the First Amendment.” It also claims the bureau “deprived Strzok of his property interest in his employment without due process, in violation of his rights under the Fifth Amendment” since the immediate firing did not give him an opportunity to appeal it.

The defendants include the DOJ and FBI. It also names Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray, but they both are only being sued in their “official capacity.”

The lawsuit alleges the public campaign against Strzok happened due to the DOJ and FBI’s “deliberate and unlawful disclosure to the media of texts, intended to be private, from an FBI systems of records,” which Strzok asserts is a violation of the Privacy Act.

Strzok hopes to use the lawsuit to receive “equitable and injunctive relief, including reinstatement and back pay” and “actual damages for the violations of the Privacy Act.”

The Privacy Act of 1974 “prohibits the disclosure of a record about an individual from a system of records absent the written consent of the individual, unless the disclosure is pursuant to one of twelve statutory exceptions.”

The act “also provides individuals with a means by which to seek access to and amendment of their records, and sets forth various agency record-keeping requirements.”

No one has confirmed who authorized the release of the text messages between Strzok and Page.

Strzok’s lawsuit brings up FBI policy that allows FBU employees to “[e]xpress his or her opinion as an individual privately and publicly on political subjects and candidates.” There is the Hatch Act that says the government can infringe on an employee’s First Amendment rights “to provide effective government and avoid the public perception of ‘political justice.'”

Strzok maintains that he never violated the Hatch Act.

But Will listed “three ways Strzok allegedly violated FBI policies.” She did not mention “the content of the text messages,” but her office noted “that the ‘overtly political tone’ of the messages was ‘of serious concern.’

Strzok v. Barr by Washington Examiner on Scribd

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Comments

This loser belongs in prison.

Comanche Voter | August 7, 2019 at 11:10 am

This smirky little jerk has chutzpah, I’ll give him that. If he does get reinstated, I hope the FBI sends him to a rubber room sort of office in say Elko Nevada or some other salubrious place.

2smartforlibs | August 7, 2019 at 11:16 am

Sue all you want but your an at-will employee and a loser

    OleDirtyBarrister in reply to 2smartforlibs. | August 7, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Wrong! He is a federal employee. Fed employees have what courts have deemed a property interest in a job and benefits and is therefore protected by the constitution (property and due process). Fed troughfeeders may also be protected by the civil service statute and regs, and any applicable collective bargaining agreements (not highly likely in this case).

    His problem will likely be that he committed so many affirmative wrongs and omissions and provided grounds for termination that he could have been fired for things other than what he said (the content of his speech).

      maxmillion in reply to OleDirtyBarrister. | August 7, 2019 at 11:36 am

      At the level he was at in the end he was in political appointee territory, and it’s a bit murkier than you suggest.

        OleDirtyBarrister in reply to maxmillion. | August 7, 2019 at 1:05 pm

        Where is your dispositive evidence for that contention?

        He was only a Deputy Assistant Director within the COIN division. That is not obvious political appointee territory, and the FBI has very few PA’s period.

      Incorrect. He is a high-level investigative officer, a considerable distance away from a GS-9 clerk who handles filing and form management. At any moment, an employee in that high position can be suspended from work *with* pay while an investigation takes place into their conduct. As in this case, when a finding is made that the officer violated his conditions of service in such a blatant and obvious fashion, both firing him and yanking his security clearance is the obvious action.

      The garden-variety Civil Service protections that most Fed employees have are to protect them *against* political retribution, mostly when a political appointee sweeps into his position and wants to mass-fire everybody beneath his position in order to hire his loyal minions. For that, it works fairly well. For firing the real losers… not so much.

      What I suspect we are seeing here is Strzok setting up a ‘Golden Pill’ in the event Trump is defeated in 2020, and a more Leftist administration takes office. If he can keep this case wheezing and gurgling along for two years, the incoming DOJ will certainly green-light a ‘settlement’ of his case involving all back pay, with interest, and other such favorable financial bonuses for his Deep State loyalty.

        OleDirtyBarrister in reply to georgfelis. | August 7, 2019 at 3:14 pm

        I would like the opportunity to bet with all of the non-attorney know it alls on this forum that have never counseled an employee or litigated an employment matter and take the money.

        Strzok is not SES, he is a GS-something, and was only a special dipstick assistant to the divisional lickspittle.

        I am not saying that he will win the case, but he is not an at will employee, a political appointee, or an SES grade official.

        randian in reply to georgfelis. | August 8, 2019 at 12:02 am

        Those civil service protections really should go. Making the civil service immune to the winds of politics only serves to ossify the bureaucracy and entrench progressive ownership of it. Mass firings keep the civil service honest and responsive to the political class, who are ostensibly their bosses, and by extension the voters who installed them.

    Joe-dallas in reply to 2smartforlibs. | August 7, 2019 at 11:32 am

    A couple of points

    A) premature to assume he is an “at will employee”. While all states, including DC, have some form of at will employment, he may have contract the overrides “at will employment”

    B) The second point from his Claim “It also claims the bureau “deprived Strzok of his property interest in his employment without due process, in violation of his rights under the Fifth Amendment””

    He is conflating a “property interest ” in his employment as if he “owns that property interest” Whereas, this is only a question of “at will employment” or any violations of his employment contract.

      OleDirtyBarrister in reply to Joe-dallas. | August 7, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      The courts have ruled that a troughfeeder has a property interest in a govt. job at the federal, state, and local level.

      Very few govt. employees are ever truly “at will” employees like the private sector, with political appointees being the closest.

discovery, if conducted properly, should be MOST interesting…

i’m not sure he, and his lawyer, thought this all the way through.

not the brightest light bulb, he should have quite while he was ahead

johnnycab23513 | August 7, 2019 at 11:34 am

He was not tired for his speach, but for his illegal actions against the legally elected and installed government of the United States of America! Actually, we’re K he, I would keep my mouth shut as a charge of treason would be possible. But then, if he were intelligent, he would not have created the situation he finds himself in!

    Milhouse in reply to johnnycab23513. | August 7, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    A charge of treason would be completely impossible!

    And he was not tried, he was summarily fired, specifically for his speech. Which would normally give him a good claim, unless the speech interfered with his ability to do his job, which it did. But he claims that was only because it became public, which was not his fault. It’s not a completely frivolous case, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Any attorney who would take this case on a contingency basis has an inflated opinion of himself/herself.

Bet this will go nowhere fast. This preening clown think that HE’S a victim is beyond ridiculous. Dismissed with prejudice.

Anytime you login to a U.S. government computer, you get the following message: WARNING! You are accessing a U.S. Government information system, which includes (1) this computer, (2) this computer network, (3) all computers connected to this network and (4) all devices and storage media attached to this network or to a computer on this network. This information system is provided for U.S. Government-authorized use only.
Unauthorized or improper use or access of this system may result in disciplinary action, as well as civil and criminal penalties. By using this information system, you understand and consent to the following:
* You have no reasonable expectation of privacy when you use this information system. This includes and communications or data transiting, stored on, originated from or directed to this information system. At any time, and for any lawful government purpose, the government may monitor, intercept, search and seize any communication or data transiting, stored on, originating from or directed to or from this information system.
* The government may disclose or use any communications or data transiting, stored on, originating to or from this information system for any lawful government purpose.
* You are NOT authorized to process classified information on this information system.

He had not expectation of privacy in his communications via government email/messaging or government phone.
He is Senior Executive Service, not protected by Government Service (GS) employee protections. In other words, his continued employment was at the pleasure of the President.

    pilgrim1949 in reply to daveclay. | August 7, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Total bull’s eye!!

    Been there — computer system user in military, civ/govvie and numerous contractor positions spanning over 45 years.

    Lots of “big talk” until (figuratively) called on the carpet to stand in front of the big mahogany desk and give a personal accounting.

    What a whiny weenie.

    Somebody call a whaaaaambulance.

    Actually, SES is not necessarily a Political Appointee position, from what I understand. The Civil Service scale pegs out fairly high, and SES/Executive Schedule/Senior Level/Senior Foreign Service was made to fill that gap between GS-15 Step 10 ($138,000 before Locality Pay) and the $400,000 absolute cap (because nobody gets paid more than the Prez.)

    There’s a whole dance involved in pay scales at that level that is both fascinating and mildly revolting.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Schedule

    daveclay: He is Senior Executive Service, not protected by Government Service (GS) employee protections.

    That is not correct. A Senior Executive can be removed from a management position, but is still accorded civil service protection, including the right of appeal for any adverse action.
    https://www.fedweek.com/issue-briefs/special-disciplinary-rules-for-ses-members-2/

      ronk in reply to Zachriel. | August 7, 2019 at 3:06 pm

      you’re the one that is wrong, daveclay is correct, the GS grades and SES grades are totally separate. protections offered to GS grades are not the same as SES grades

        ronk: protections offered to GS grades are not the same as SES grades

        Under Title 5, a career Senior Executive can be removed from a position for unsatisfactory performance, but can only be removed from the civil service for specified reasons, such as “misconduct, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or failure to accept a directed reassignment”, and have the right to appeal such an adverse action.

          That’s because (if I remember right) certain SES employees have been ‘uplifted’ from the ranks of the common CS employees, and keeps one thumb on his/her previous position so they can be returned there after their ‘temporary’ stint as SES is complete. So the Nebraska State Asst. Mgr. for Corn Production can be appointed to the National Corn Production Secretary spot for a presidential term or two, and if the incoming president removes them from the position, they have some sort of recourse to return to the CS common folk in another position to serve out the years needed to retire. (Even though they typically don’t, and go work for National CornCo as a lobbyist or such instead.)

          But I can be (and frequently am) wrong.

          ronk in reply to Zachriel. | August 7, 2019 at 7:41 pm

          if he did admit to affair, especially with a subordinate that would cause his security clearance to be revoked, that would preclude him from doing his job

    Milhouse in reply to daveclay. | August 7, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    The government may disclose or use any communications or data transiting, stored on, originating to or from this information system for any lawful government purpose.

    The key words there are “for any lawful government purpose”. His messages were not leaked for a lawful purpose.

Free State Paul | August 7, 2019 at 1:06 pm

It’s been maintained since the beginning that Strzok and Page were conducting an adulterous affair. I have by no means read all their texts, but I’ve seen no evidence of such an affair in the bits I have. No sexting, no flirting, no references to having been together or planning to get together. The parts I have read strike me as communications between colleagues who are just good friends.

Am I missing something? Has anyone read the whole thing? Do they seem to you like the texts of lovers?

    Tom Servo in reply to Free State Paul. | August 7, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    I have not read all the texts – have no wish to, and that’s putting it mildly – but I have seen it suggested that the claims of an “affair” were simply a cover story to explain why they were in such constant communication, the real reason having been that they were both so heavily involved in the conspiracy to take down Trump.

      ronk in reply to Tom Servo. | August 7, 2019 at 3:14 pm

      they were caught between a rock and a hard place, if they admitted to an affair and she was his subordinate, that is in fact cause for demotion or dismissal.

    Yes, you are definitely missing something. “Irrelevant” texts were never released, and a big, crucial time block of them were disappeared.

Didn’t someone destroy all his messages, the ones that could be used against him?

Can’t recall who that was, but I think his initials are RM.

Could this action by Strzok hurt him at his sentencing?

Sorry? Learned his lesson? Does not look like it.

You think he’s ready to be eviscerated during discovery?

    randian in reply to Demonized. | August 8, 2019 at 12:05 am

    The relevant records, including most of his texts, were destroyed by his pals. There is nothing adverse left to discover.

He was having an affair. If he and Lisa weren’t, then they lied to investigators about the affair to explain the text messages. Having an affair makes him a security risk, and his clearance can be pulled. He needs to have the clearance to do his job, hence he can be fired.

If he lied about the affair to explain the messages- then he lied to federal investigators. Makes him a security rick, his clearance can be pulled. Plus- it’s a crime.

Absolutely nothing else is needed, but there’s plenty there.

His first amendment claim has some surface plausibility. It’s true that the government is not allowed to fire even a completely at-will employee, or even to withdraw a discretionary grant from someone, as punishment for their protected speech.

The starkest example I can think of is Rankin, which established that a police department may not fire an employee for expressing a wish that the president would be murdered. But the key point in that case was that the plaintiff’s job did not require her to interact with the public, and the opinion was expressed only within the office, so doing so did not interfere with her ability to do her job. Actual policemen are routinely fired for saying things on social media, e.g. racist comments, that are absolutely protected speech but that undermine public trust in their impartiality. Much the same would seem to apply to Strzok’s texts, except that they weren’t meant to become public. That’s as may be, but they did, and from that moment he was unable to do his job.

    There is applicability to consider in his statements:

    Example: If our local police dispatcher posts on social media that she considers Nasty Criminal in Chicago needs to be locked up for a thousand years, that’s one thing. If our local police evidence technician posts that local Bob Smith who was arrested last week is obviously guilty of an unsolved local murder, and later evidence of said murder passes through his hands on the way to the courtroom…

FortesFortunaJuvat | August 7, 2019 at 8:26 pm

Discovery is going to be awesome. Stock up on the popcorn.

“Peter Strzok Sues DOJ for Violating His First Amendment Rights” ,,,,, WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS ??? Instead of doing the job you were hired to do , you went after a private citizen who was then duly elected as President. INCOMPETENCE doesn’t even begin to describe your FAILURES !!!

    Milhouse in reply to tcurran. | August 9, 2019 at 12:40 am

    But that’s not what he was fired for. He was fired for expressing his opinions to his girlfriend, which was protected speech. Which, as I wrote above, would normally be a valid complaint; but once his opinions became public knowledge it was impossible for him to do his job, and that’s why he was fired, which is a legitimate reason.

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