'You deserve to be divorced, not fired': Peter Strzok quotes wife in arguing against FBI firing for anti-Trump textsby Jerry Dunleavy
Fired FBI agent Peter Strzok wrote in his new book that his wife told him he deserves "to be divorced, not fired" after anti-Trump texts he had exchanged with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, were discovered in 2017.
“Make no mistake — I regret sending those texts. But there’s a point that’s worth noting. Bureau policy allowed personal use of FBI smartphones. ... Having said that, just because something might be allowed doesn’t necessarily make it wise or prudent,” Strzok wrote in his new book, Compromised. “To be clear, I have made some terrible personal decisions, and they have hurt the people and institutions I love the most in the world — my wife, my family, and the Bureau — in a way that I’m deeply sorry for. At one point much later in the swirl of all this, my wife reflected to me, ‘You deserve to be divorced, not fired.’ She was absolutely right.”
In November, the Justice Department revealed that Strzok’s wife seemed to discover his affair with Page on his phone in 2017. The Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the wrongful termination lawsuit Strzok filed in August 2019, with the DOJ arguing that Strzok betrayed the trust placed in him as a leader at the FBI as he helped lead high-profile investigations related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized private email server and alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Strzok’s affair with Page was cited by the DOJ in a 26-page letter sent by the FBI’s Candice Will, the assistant director at the Office of Professional Responsibility, to Strzok in August 2018. Will recommended that Strzok be demoted and suspended for 60 days without pay, but FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich overruled her, and the FBI fired Strzok the next day.
Will harshly criticized the hundreds of Strzok-Page texts showing political bias against President Trump and in favor of Clinton.
“The lapses in judgment embodied in those messages and others like them risked undermining public confidence in two of the Bureau’s highest-profile investigations,” the DOJ told the court last year. “And even more broadly, those lapses in judgment risked damaging the public trust in the FBI as a nonpartisan, even-handed, and effective law enforcement institution."
Those texts “cast a pall over the FBI’s Clinton email and Russia investigations and the work of the special counsel,” Will wrote.
Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in 2017 after the texts were disclosed. Will noted “security violations” stemming from Strzok and Page using personal devices to conduct FBI business, which Will noted was “replete with irony given the FBI’s criticism of Clinton for having done so.”
In a footnote, Will cited a text exchange between Strzok and Page from April 4, 2017, in which Strzok’s wife uncovered their affair.
“[My wife] has my phone. Read an angry note I wrote but didn’t send you. That is her calling from my phone. She says she wants to talk to [you]. Said we were close friends nothing more,” Strzok texted Page.
“Your wife left me a vm. Am I supposed to respond?” Page replied. “She thinks we’re having an affair. Should I call and correct her understanding? Leave this to you to address?”
Strzok said, “I don’t know. I said we were close friends and nothing more. She knows I sent you flowers. I said you were having a tough week.”
Strzok’s wife also threatened to expose the affair.
“You admitted your wife gained access to your personal cell phone and email accounts in 2017,” Will wrote to Strzok in 2018. “You noted her access was ‘unusual and limited to a specific period of time’ and claimed she did not view any FBI case-related information.”
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz discussed Strzok's text messages in the report he put out in December.
In one Aug. 6, 2016, exchange, Page said, “Trump should go f himself.” Strzok responded, “F Trump.” Two days later, Page texted, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok replied, “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
“We concluded that Strzok's text messages with Page indicated or created the appearance of bias against Trump,” Horowitz wrote, adding, “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI's decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page.”
Strzok’s new book never mentioned Lisa Page by name despite her key role in the Clinton and Trump investigations.
“I don’t deserve the extraordinary support I have received. I’m beyond fortunate. To this day, as hard as it is to achieve, I am trying to live up to what I’ve always tried to do when I’ve done something wrong: acknowledge it, own it, and make it right,” Strzok wrote. “But my family is innocent, and they deserve peace.”
Strzok’s August 2019 lawsuit alleged “the concerted public campaign to disparage and, ultimately, fire” him was enabled by a “deliberate and unlawful disclosure to the media” of his texts and by targeting from Trump, who celebrated Strzok’s firing in a tweet. The fired FBI agent claimed his “protected political speech” should not have been a fireable offense.
Will also cited “dereliction of supervisory responsibility” by Strzok in prioritizing the Trump-Russia investigation over the Clinton investigation and his slow-walking of the review of Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s emails found in late September 2016 on the laptop of her husband, disgraced former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Horowitz criticized Strzok in his June 2018 report on the FBI’s inquiry into Clinton in 2016, noting he “did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision” on handling the Weiner laptop “was free from bias.”
Strzok wrote that "of course" he prioritized the Trump-Russia investigation over the Clinton emails investigation because "there was simply no equivalence between Midyear and Crossfire.”
“Your inaction contributed to a substantial investigative error and significantly tarnished the integrity of the bureau,” Will told Strzok.