Disgraced former FBI employee Peter Strzok is suing the federal government alleging in a court document that FBI and Department of Justice violated his free speech and privacy rights in the process of dismissing him, according to a report at Politico.
The new court filing is part of a termination lawsuit that Strzok first filed in August, and was put forward Monday in response to the Department of Justice's motion to dismiss the case last month. The Justice Department has argued that Strzok's role in the high-profile FBI investigations he was involved in "imposed on him a higher burden of caution with respect to his speech," the story explains.
However, Strzok's legal team countered by saying, "The government's argument would leave thousands of career federal government employees without protections from discipline over the content of their political speech."
According to Strzok's legal team, there are "roughly eight thousand" federal workers in a similar position to Strzok's former managerial role and act as liaisons between political appointees and career workers.
In the legal filing, Strzok also complained that "there is no evidence of an attempt to punish" FBI agents who reportedly celebrated Donald Trump's 2016 election victory. It adds that "this vignette is yet additional evidence of this Administration's pattern of treating critics of President Trump more harshly than his supporters."
Strzok, who began working for the FBI in 1996, was a key figure in special counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation. During the course of that investigation, however, it came out that Strzok had exchanged anti-Trump text messages with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an extramarital affair.
The texts exchanged by Strzok and Page first came to light in late 2017 and contained angry, insulting messages from 2016 that were aimed at then-candidate Trump and his supporters.
"Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart," Strzok says in one, "I could SMELL the Trump support." In another message, Strzok called Trump a "a f***ing idiot." In another, he promised that Trump would never get elected because "we'll stop it."
Strzok was fired over the text messages in August 2018 and, at the time, FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich cited a "sustained pattern of bad judgment in the use of an FBI device" for the termination.
The DOJ's release of those text messages is the source of the lawsuit's privacy concerns. Strzok claims that the release constituted a violation of the Privacy Act. The Justice Department says that they two never should have expected privacy, since the communications in question took place, not on personal devices, but on Department-issued mobile devices, which contained clear banner warnings that inform users of the lack of any reasonable expectation of privacy."
Strzok's legal team countered in the most recent filing that "The fact that a workplace conversation can be discovered does not render it unprotected."
Earlier this month, Page also sued the FBI and DOJ over privacy concerns. Her lawsuit claims that the agencies acted unlawfully by releasing the now-infamous text messages and cited "cost of therapy" and "permanent loss of earning capacity" among the many listed damages.