The Firing of Peter Strzok Will Lead to Increased Attacks on the Justice Department

I watched a lot of Peter Strzok’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees and came to the conclusion that he made one gigantic mistake. By using his work phone to text Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, he opened up his private communication to public scrutiny. Otherwise, all of the charges against him were refuted in the short span of about one minute of his opening statement.

I understand that my sworn testimony will not be enough for some people. After all, Americans are skeptical of anything they hear out of Washington. But the fact is, after months of investigations, there is simply no evidence of bias in my professional actions.

There is, however, one extraordinarily important piece of evidence supporting my integrity, the integrity of the FBI, and our lack of bias.

In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign. This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind.

That’s what FBI agents do every single day, and it’s why I am so proud of the Bureau.

Yesterday, Peter Strzok’s lawyer announced that he had been fired, even though the Office of Professional Responsibility had recommended that he be demoted and suspended for 60 days. Apparently David Bowdich, deputy director of the FBI, ignored that recommendation and decided to fire Strzok. Beyond that, no one from the FBI is willing to comment or provide a rationale for the decision.

Given that the Office of Professional Responsibility didn’t consider the use of a work phone for private communication to be a fireable offense, I can only think of two reasons why Bowdich would fire Strzok:

  1. He has information about Strzok that hasn’t been made public, or
  2. He succumbed to political pressure from Trump and Republicans.

If #2 played any role in this decision, it is not only a travesty for a career FBI agent, it simply invites more attacks on the bureau. As we know, both Trump and his congressional enablers have been attacking Strzok relentlessly to discredit both the FBI and Mueller investigation.

Over and over again, rather than mount any kind of defense for whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to influence the election, they have chosen to attack the investigators. As I’ve previously pointed out, Trump’s pattern when he’s challenged is to lie, distract, and blame. So far, those attacks have led to the firing of the FBI director, the deputy director, and now a lead investigator. Meanwhile, there are threats to impeach the deputy attorney general and calls for the attorney general to step down.

If Bowdich thought that these attacks would recede by firing Strzok, that is an incredibly naive assumption. Instead, he demonstrated that attacking the investigators works–and that will lead to more of the same. It’s clear from Trump’s twitter feed that he is taking a victory lap over Strzok’s firing and smelling more blood in the water.

The only way to stop these vicious attacks on the Justice Department and Mueller investigation is to stand up to the attackers and show that they don’t work.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.