Peter Strzok — the FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts and played key roles in the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the early stages of the Russia investigation — has been fired, his lawyer announced on Monday.
While not directly commenting on Strzok's firing, Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores told BuzzFeed News, "This was an FBI decision."
The FBI itself had no comment, and a spokesperson for the special counsel's office declined to comment.
Strzok's lawyer, Aitan Goelman of Zuckerman Spaeder, said the decision was made by FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich — and "overruled the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR)."
Goelman said that Bowdich "reversed the decision of the career FBI official responsible for employee discipline who concluded, through an independent review process, that a 60-day suspension and demotion from supervisory duties was the appropriate punishment."
While the officials within the Justice Department weren't talking, President Donald Trump, who has regularly targeted Strzok in his tweets, quickly confirmed the firing — and asked if it would lead to the end of the special counsel's investigation.
Five minutes later, Trump tweeted again, this time suggesting the Clinton email investigation — which already was the subject of a yearlong inspector general's investigation — "should be properly redone."
Trump had referenced Strzok as recently as this weekend in a tweet where he called Strzok and others "clowns and losers."
The anti-Trump texts that Strzok sent to another FBI agent, Lisa Page, with whom he had a relationship, figured heavily into Strzok's heated congressional testimony in July.
Here is the full statement from Goelman:
Late Friday afternoon, the Deputy Director of the FBI overruled the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and departed from established precedent by firing 21-year FBI veteran Peter Strzok. In doing so he reversed the decision of the career FBI official responsible for employee discipline who concluded, through an independent review process, that a 60-day suspension and demotion from supervisory duties was the appropriate punishment.
The decision to fire Special Agent Strzok is not only a departure from typical Bureau practice, but also contradicts Director Wray’s testimony to Congress and his assurances that the FBI intended to follow its regular process in this and all personnel matters.
This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans. A lengthy investigation and multiple rounds of Congressional testimony failed to produce a shred of evidence that Special Agent Strzok’s personal views ever affected his work. In fact, in his decades of service, Special Agent Strzok has proved himself to be one of the country’s top counterintelligence officers, leading to only one conclusion — the decision to terminate was taken in response to political pressure, and to punish Special Agent Strzok for political speech protected by the First Amendment, not on a fair and independent examination of the facts. It is a decision that produces only one winner — those who seek to harm our country and weaken our democracy.
The FBI and the American people deserve better.
Strzok has joined Twitter, his legal team confirmed. Thus far, his only tweet is a copy of his lawyer's statement.
By 3 p.m. Monday, a GoFundMe page set up for Strzok, which his legal team verified was authorized by Strzok, had raised nearly $25,000 for him.
This is a developing story. Please check back at BuzzFeed News for the latest.