Latest News 31-05-2024 12:36 9 Views

DOJ reaches settlement with ex-FBI ‘lovebirds’ caught in anti-Trump text scandal

Former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page have settled with the Justice Department over alleged privacy rights violations after the release of their disparaging text messages leveraged by former President Trump to challenge the Russia investigation during his presidency. 

The settlement is still pending finalization and approval from a judge.

A tentative agreement was filed Tuesday resolving Page’s 5-year-old lawsuit against the FBI for releasing text messages with Strzok — with whom she had an affair — that were critical of the former president. Strzok’s lawsuit seeking back pay and reinstatement remains unsettled.

Page sought $1,000 in compensation following the leak of her text messages to the media. Additional details about the settlement were not immediately available.

In 2019, Strzok argued in a court filing in Washington, D.C., federal district court that his politically charged anti-Trump messages were protected by the First Amendment even though he sent them on bureau-issued phones while playing leading roles in the probes into both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Strzok, once the FBI’s head of counterintelligence, said he was entitled to ‘develop a full factual record through discovery,’ and that it would be premature to dismiss the case at this early stage. He went on to argue that the DOJ’s position would ‘leave thousands of career federal government employees without protections from discipline over the content of their political speech.’

Page also filed suit against the FBI and Department of Justice, alleging the government’s publication of her salacious text messages with Strzok constituted a breach of the Federal Privacy Act.

Page’s complaint also sought reimbursement for ‘the cost of childcare during and transportation to multiple investigative reviews and appearances before Congress,’ the ‘cost of paying a data-privacy service to protect her personal information’ and attorney’s fees.

In a later filing, according to CNN, Strzok’s lawyers wrote that the defendants ‘should not be heard to complain about the notoriety and putative damage to the FBI’s reputation from Strzok’s speech when it was their own illegal disclosures, magnified and distorted by the false attacks made by the President and his allies, that placed a spotlight on Strzok’s opinions.’

The two were involved in the FBI’s initial counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 election and later served on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

In 2020, the spotlight was on the lovers’ scandal during a live performance titled ‘FBI Lovebirds: UnderCovers’ at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which was based on the anti-Trump text messages shared between the former agents. Trump has called the couple the ‘FBI lovebirds’ during his rallies. 

Fox News’ Gregg Re and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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