Former FBI Officials Who Traded Anti-Trump Texts Reach Tentative Settlement With DOJ

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
May 29, 2024Politics
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Former FBI Officials Who Traded Anti-Trump Texts Reach Tentative Settlement With DOJ
(L) Lisa Page, former legal counsel to former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, arrives on Capitol Hill on July 16, 2018. (R) FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 12, 2018. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images; Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Two former FBI officials have reached a tentative settlement with the Justice Department to resolve claims that their privacy was violated when the department leaked to the news media text messages that they had sent one another that appeared to conspire against former President Donald Trump.

The tentative deal was disclosed in a brief court filing Tuesday that did not reveal any of the terms.

The two former agents, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page alleged in federal lawsuits filed in the District of Columbia that the Justice Department infringed on their privacy rights when officials shared copies of their communications with reporters in December 2017.

The release of the text messages sparked a political firestorm over the origins of the Russia investigation. In their communications, Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok disparaged President Trump as an “idiot,” spoke of stopping him from being elected, and discussed “an insurance policy” in the “unlikely event” that he won, among other texts.

Mr. Strzok, then a top FBI counterintelligence agent, became one of the central figures in the bureau’s investigation into the now-discredited Russian collusion in President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He was fired in 2018 after the text messages discussing President Trump came to light.

By then, Ms. Page had already voluntarily resigned from her role as an FBI lawyer.

Mr. Strzok also sued the department over his termination, alleging that the FBI caved to “unrelenting pressure” from then-President Trump when it moved to terminate his contract. The lawsuit noted that President Trump repeatedly invoked him and Ms. Page in social media posts and had actually called for Mr. Strzok to be fired.

“The campaign to fire Strzok included constant tweets and other disparaging statements by the President, as well as direct appeals from the President to then Attorney General Jefferson Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Strzok, which were chronicled in the press,” his 2019 lawsuit read.

NTD Photo
FBI agent Peter Strzok during testimony before Congress on July 12, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Strzok also claimed his First Amendment rights had been violated. These constitutional claims have not been resolved by the tentative settlement, according to the court notice.

The text messages were discovered by the Justice Department inspector general’s office as it scrutinized the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her term as secretary of state.

Mr. Strzok was also a lead agent in the server investigation and argued his integrity in this lawsuit, claiming that the inspector general found no evidence that political bias tainted his investigation.

Even so, the text messages regarding President Trump’s election demonstrated outspoken bias that was deemed sufficient to remove Mr. Strzok from the special counsel team conducting the Russian collusion investigation, a decision which only added weight to President Trump’s criticism that the inquiry was a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

The final report by special counsel John Durham released last year revealed that both UK Intelligence and FBI line agents scoffed from the very beginning at the flimsy justification behind their higher-ups’ decision to launch the ultimately fruitless Trump-Russia investigation.

NTD reached out to Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page’s attorneys for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

Lawyers for Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page declined an Associated Press request from comments Tuesday night. A Justice Department spokesman also declined to comment, but the department has previously said that officials had determined that it was permissible to share text messages that were also disclosed to members of Congress with the media.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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