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Former FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Former FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department and the FBI for violating his First Amendment rights by firing him after discovering 2016 texts in which he "expressed his political opinions" about then-candidate Donald Trump.

Why it matters: Strzok led the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and later worked for special counsel Robert Mueller, before being transferred and later terminated after the discovery of thousands of personal text messages exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Strzok has been the target of attacks from conservatives and Trump allies who believe the Russia probe was politically motivated and part of a conspiracy to undermine the Trump presidency.

  • Strzok's attorney said in a statement: "The lawsuit shows that, in bowing to the president’s desires, FBI leaders trampled Pete’s free speech and due process rights in ways that should be deeply troubling to all in government, and indeed, to all Americans. Today, Pete Strzok is fighting back, and sending a message that the Administration’s purposeful disregard for constitutional rights must not be tolerated."

Details: The lawsuit claims that there has been no assertion that Strzok's speech violated the Hatch Act, and that even if it had, the government "cannot practice viewpoint discrimination in deciding what political speech by government employees to allow and what political speech to punish."

  • It goes on to claim that the Trump administration "has consistently tolerated and even encouraged partisan political speech by federal employees, as long as this speech praises President Trump and attacks his political adversaries" — specifically pointing to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway's Hatch Act violations as an example.
  • In addition to violating Strzok's First Amendment, the lawsuit alleges that the firing violated his right to due process. It claims the FBI's decision to fire Strzok was the result of "unrelenting pressure from President Trump and his political allies," and that it did not "abide by the final decision of Assistant Director [Candice] Will to suspend and demote, rather than fire" him.
  • Strzok also alleges that he was denied the right to appeal his firing. The lawsuit requests that he be compensated with back pay and reinstatement to his old job.

Read the lawsuit:

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America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

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AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.