Attorneys for former FBI Agent Peter Strzok quoted the president of the United States in the first line of a filing to argue that, yes, the president’s desire for revenge had something to do with their client’s wrongful firing. Strzok filed a lawsuit in August alleging that he was unlawfully fired from the FBI for expressing his political opinions — the anti-Trump texts we all know so well.
The plaintiff’s attorneys filed 53 pages of court documents on Monday in response to the Department of Justice. The DOJ previously moved to dismiss Strzok’s claim that he was fired in retaliation for his views, in violation of his First Amendment rights. Strzok, like Lisa Page, also claimed that the DOJ violated his privacy by releasing certain text messages to the public. DOJ motioned for summary judgment on the Privacy Act claim.
The first line of Team Strzok’s response on Monday? A quote from President Donald Trump taking credit for ridding the FBI of “dirty,” “bad” and “evil” people like Strzok. President Trump said such ousters could even be his “greatest” achievement.
“These were dirty people. These were bad people. These were evil people, and I hope that someday I’m going to consider it my greatest, or one of my greatest achievements, getting rid of them,” Trump said.
“These were the words that President Trump used just last week to describe to reporters his pride in ensuring the termination of FBI employees, including Plaintiff Peter Strzok, who played significant roles in the investigation of the Russian Government’s efforts to undermine the 2016 Presidential elections in Trump’s favor,” Strzok’s lawyers said. “Those recent comments echoed vitriolic statements President Trump made about Mr. Strzok before and after he was fired in settings from press conferences to Twitter to campaign rallies. Mr. Strzok’s Complaint alleges that his firing by the Deputy Director of the FBI after Mr. Strzok had already entered into a binding agreement to accept demotion and suspension was indeed a politically-motivated achievement of President Trump and his political allies tied to a politically-motivated effort to use Mr. Strzok’s text messages to discredit investigations of the President and his campaign.”
“Yet Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment (‘Motion’) ducks the whole question of whether, in violation of the First Amendment, Mr. Strzok was fired because of the content of his speech,” they continued.
The plaintiff then said it was “unquestionably plausible” that President Trump pressured FBI bigwigs into firing Strzok over the anti-Trump text messages.
“The Complaint describes an orchestrated campaign by the President of the United States to pressure the FBI into firing Strzok because of the content of his speech (i.e., his viewpoint),” the filing said. “That claim is unquestionably plausible; indeed, it is bolstered by a seemingly endless stream of decidedly unpresidential tweets, President Trump’s accusations that Strzok committed ‘treason,’ and by contemporaneous news accounts of the President personally imploring the Attorney General and the FBI Director to fire Strzok.”
Team Strzok went on to call the DOJ’s argument a “terrifying” one:
Defendants’ Motion is a remarkable document. Defendants contend that they should win at the starting gate. They demand victory not only without a trial, but without even allowing Strzok to obtain discovery, even on the count that they concede states a claim. If Defendants are correct, there is no remedy, and indeed no administrative or judicial review, for a career federal employee who is fired for privately expressing political opinions deemed to be disloyal to the President even after the FBI official responsible for the Bureau’s disciplinary process decided that termination was not the appropriate consequence. This would subject thousands of mid-level managers in the federal government to punishment for expressing their opinions about candidates for national office in private water cooler conversations. There is no precedent supporting this terrifying argument.
[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
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