STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Why the firing of Peter Strzok changes the Russia investigation less than you think

The firing of Peter Strz...

Posted: Aug 14, 2018 9:41 AM
Updated: Aug 14, 2018 9:41 AM

The firing of Peter Strzok -- the FBI agent who sent a series of anti-Trump texts to a woman he was having an affair with even as he was part of investigations into Hillary Clinton's private email server and Russia's attempted interference in the 2016 election -- seems, on its face, to be very big news.

After all, Strzok has been front and center in President Donald Trump's attempts to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference and the possibility of collusion and obstruction for months now. "Russian Collusion with the Trump Campaign, one of the most successful in history, is a TOTAL HOAX," Trump tweeted earlier this month. "The Democrats paid for the phony and discredited Dossier which was, along with Comey, McCabe, Strzok and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page, used to begin the Witch Hunt. Disgraceful!"

2016 Presidential election

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Europe

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Investigations

Misc people

Peter Strzok

Political candidates

Political Figures - US

Politics

Robert Mueller

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

US Department of Justice

US federal departments and agencies

US Federal elections

US federal government

US Presidential elections

White House

Hillary Clinton

And a report from the Justice Department's inspector general on the FBI's conduct during the 2016 campaign made clear that Strzok promised "we'll stop it" when FBI employee Lisa Page, who he was having an affair with, asked whether Trump was going to be elected president.

In truth, however, the Strzok firing changes very little -- on either end of the investigation.

Let's start with Trump and his allies. Does anyone believe that now that Strzok has been fired that the President will cease his attacks on the Mueller probe? Or that Trump will be mollified in any way by the firing? He won't. Just check out the tweet Trump sent Monday in the immediate aftermath of Strzok's firing:

"Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI - finally. The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ gets longer & longer. Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped? It is a total Hoax. No Collusion, No Obstruction - I just fight back!"

If anything, the Strzok firing will be cited as definitive proof -- by Trump and his supporters -- that the President was right all along about, well, everything as it relates to Mueller and Russia. That the investigation should never have been started in the first place and that Strzok's anti-Trump views corroded the entire team -- which, in Trump's mind, is comprised solely of "angry Democrats" anyway. (Note that Strzok was removed from the Mueller probe in the summer of 2017 after Mueller got word of the existence of the texts; and also that Mueller is a Republican who was appointed as special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.)

This will provide fuel for the argument that not only should the Mueller probe be ended today but that the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state -- for which no charges were ultimately brought -- should be reopened. "Just fired Agent Strzok, formerly of the FBI, was in charge of the Crooked Hillary Clinton sham investigation," tweeted Trump. "It was a total fraud on the American public and should be properly redone!"

Now turn to the Mueller end of things. The former FBI director has repeatedly refused to engage Trump even as the President has become more and more aggressive in his taunts against the special counsel. Mueller's defenders will note, rightly, that Strzok was removed from the special counsel probe a year ago -- as soon as Mueller found out about the text exchanges between Strzok and Page. And Justice Department watchers could tell you that since the IG report's release, Strzok has been effectively benched -- working in human resources, according to The Washington Post, which first broke the news of Strzok's firing.

Yes, they will note, Strzok is a bad actor and someone who should have known far better than to do what he did over text during the 2016 campaign. But he was removed from the Mueller investigation. He hasn't been an active FBI agent for months. One bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch -- and all that.

The most predictable thing of all is how the public will react to the Strzok firing and the arguments made in its wake. Trump backers will side with the President's assertion that, now more than ever, whatever Mueller wins up finding is invalidated by Strzok. Trump detractors will see Strzok as someone who, yes, sent texts he shouldn't have, but at the end of the day did nothing to actually impede Trump's chances of being elected President. Strzok was a big talker in trying to impress a woman, an age-old story but not something that takes away the various criminal pleas already in the books as a result of the Mueller probe.

The truth is that Strzok was already a political football before the news of his firing broke on Monday. He was the perfect villain for Trump allies who saw in him all of the nefarious biases they believe infect the entrenched government bureaucracy. He remains that villain today -- and that would be the case even if he remained at the FBI for another decade. For Mueller supporters, Strzok is one agent gone rogue -- nothing more and nothing less. His firing is a matter for the FBI to handle and doesn't impede or in any way impact the Mueller investigation into interference and the possibility of collusion and/or obstruction.

The right way to understand the Strzok firing is -- like so much in our current political culture -- as sound and fury, signifying not all that much in the long run.

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
89° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 90°
Florence
Few Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 88°
Fayetteville
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 90°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
89° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 90°
Scottsboro
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 94°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 91776

Reported Deaths: 1639
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12039228
Mobile9170197
Montgomery6305147
Madison508227
Tuscaloosa398466
Baldwin326323
Shelby307532
Marshall298433
Unassigned281255
Lee251940
Morgan224315
Etowah195728
DeKalb171813
Elmore162637
Calhoun159012
Walker147464
Houston132712
Dallas129423
Russell12471
St. Clair123612
Limestone120813
Franklin120620
Cullman115711
Colbert110712
Lauderdale109512
Autauga103020
Escambia97915
Talladega92713
Jackson8704
Chambers82838
Tallapoosa82278
Dale78722
Butler75135
Blount7413
Chilton7226
Coffee7165
Covington71520
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55824
Marion54724
Marengo52614
Clarke4879
Hale45726
Bullock44111
Winston43211
Perry4314
Wilcox4089
Monroe3954
Randolph39110
Bibb3813
Conecuh37210
Pickens3719
Sumter35918
Lawrence3240
Washington31412
Macon31113
Crenshaw2973
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2477
Henry2463
Greene24511
Geneva2420
Clay2235
Lamar2032
Fayette1765
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 112441

Reported Deaths: 1117
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby21728293
Davidson19563205
Rutherford615553
Hamilton572047
Knox410837
Williamson330822
Sumner321970
Unassigned29575
Out of TN278914
Wilson210222
Sevier17565
Montgomery175212
Bradley173910
Putnam160113
Trousdale15766
Robertson145919
Hamblen129713
Blount11817
Tipton11239
Maury10897
Washington10892
Madison92913
Bedford87711
Macon84113
Sullivan8339
Hardeman83011
Lake7560
Loudon6823
Bledsoe6741
Fayette6428
Anderson6307
Dickson6091
Gibson5902
Dyer5687
Cheatham5486
Rhea5111
Jefferson5083
McMinn49320
Lawrence4916
Henderson4690
Obion4534
Lauderdale4386
Carter4335
Warren4294
Coffee4212
Cocke4121
Hardin4097
Haywood4025
Roane3922
Cumberland3856
Smith3843
Monroe3779
Greene3765
Hawkins3694
Giles35410
McNairy3245
DeKalb3221
Weakley3103
Franklin2864
Marshall2662
Lincoln2551
Carroll2443
Crockett2364
Claiborne2350
Hickman2330
Henry2250
Campbell2211
Wayne2191
Marion2094
White2053
Chester1962
Grainger1790
Polk1793
Johnson1770
Decatur1692
Overton1391
Unicoi1390
Union1290
Cannon1260
Humphreys1093
Benton1081
Jackson1081
Scott1050
Grundy1022
Meigs990
Sequatchie960
Morgan911
Fentress760
Hancock761
Perry740
Stewart700
Clay640
Lewis581
Houston540
Moore440
Van Buren330
Pickett251

Community Events