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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:

Go deeper

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, left, and Sen. Chuck Grassle (R-Iowa) look out into the crowd at a "Dole for President" rally at Hy-Vee Foods corporate office in Des Moines on April 13. Photo: J. DAVID AKE/AFP via Getty Images

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record,

Former Sen. Bob Dole dies

Former Sen. Bob Dole in 2019. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole passed away Sunday morning at the age of 98, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced in a statement.

Driving the news: Dole, a revered figure in U.S. politics and the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, served in the Senate for 27 years, including 11 years as GOP leader. Earlier this year he revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.