Tom Fitton, Peter Strzok, Robert Mueller, image via Judicial Watch
Once again Judicial Watch is doing the heavy lifting that Congress refuses to do.
On Friday, in a huge victory for conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch (and Americans), a federal court ruled the FBI’s search of records about Peter Strzok’s removal from Robert Mueller’s investigation was inadequate and ordered a new search.
A previous FOIA lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch to obtain records on Peter Strzok’s departure from Mueller’s probe only yielded 14 pages.
Judicial Watch is seeking:
- All records regarding the assignment of FBI Supervisor Peter Strzok to the special counsel’s investigation led by former Director Robert Mueller.
- All records related to the reassignment of FBI Supervisor Peter Strzok from the special counsel’s investigation to another position within the FBI.
- All SF-50 and/or SF-52 employment forms, as well as all related records of communication between any official, employee, or representative of the FBI and any other individual or entity.
Via Judicial Watch:
Judicial Watch announced today that United States District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper for the District of Columbia agreed with Judicial Watch that the FBI did not adequately search for records related to the removal and reassignment of Peter Strzok, a former deputy to the assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team. In granting Judicial Watch’s request, Judge Cooper orderedthe FBI to further search their records. (The original, deficient search had only returned 14 pages.)
In his decision, Judge Cooper called the FBI’s search “overly cramped:”
Notwithstanding that Judicial Watch’s request referred to Mueller by name … the Bureau searched only for the term “special counsel.” But surely one would expect that Agent Strzok and other FBI personnel might use the Special Counsel’s name — “Mueller” — rather than his title when discussing Strzok’s assignment to the Russia investigation, especially in informal emails. Another logical variation on “special counsel” is its commonly used acronym “SCO,” which appears to be used within the Special Counsel’s Office itself, as reflected by documents that the FBI uncovered and produced to Judicial Watch.
The ruling also stated that the FBI did not adequately respond to Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuit because it limited its search to only Strzok’s email account.
Judge Cooper ordered that the FBI must conduct a new search that includes “the email accounts of any of Agent Strzok’s superiors or other Bureau officials who were involved in the decision to assign him to the Special Counsel’s Office or the decision to reassign him to the FBI’s Human Resources Division after his removal from the Mueller investigation.”
The FBI must also expand its search to other forms of communication in addition to email. Given Strzok’s well-known use of text messaging, “it strikes the Court as reasonably likely that he discussed his assignment to the Special Counsel’s Office in text messages—which again is the standard for assessing an agency’s selection of search locations.”
Both Peter Strzok and his paramour FBI lawyer Lisa Page were removed from Mueller’s team in July of 2017 after anti-Trump text messages exchanged between the two were discovered.
Lisa Page was removed from the special counsel investigation on July 15th, 2017 according to a memo filed by Mueller, however Peter Strzok was kept on the team for an additional two weeks in order to take a 302 report. The exact date of Strzok’s departure from Mueller’s probe is still unknown, however it is reported he departed in late July or early August of 2017.
Peter Strzok was then reassigned to a position in human resources and retained his security clearance — Strzok was subsequently fired from the FBI and escorted out of the building in June of 2018.
“The Court rightly slammed the FBI for its gamesmanship in searching for records about one of the most notorious FBI agents of all time – Peter Strzok,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The FBI leadership is in cover-up mode on its abuses targeting President Trump and we’re pleased a federal court pushed back on this stonewall.”
.@JudicialWatch Victory: Federal Court Rules FBI’s Search of Records about Peter Strzok’s Removal from Mueller Investigation Inadequate; Orders New Search https://t.co/DbFUtF9e4k
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) March 15, 2019
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