Ex-FBI officer hired to teach counterintelligence

November 12, 2020

Illustration by Deborah Han

Peter Strzok (SFS ‘91), a former FBI special agent fired in 2018 for sending text messages critical of President Donald Trump to a coworker, has been hired to teach at Georgetown in the undergraduate program of the Walsh School of Foreign Service. 

Strzok, who currently teaches a seminar on counterintelligence and national security, is a career intelligence official who has been featured in national news for his role in FBI investigations and his firing. He is widely disliked by conservatives, many of whom view him as a “disgraced” operative, and some of whom have criticized his hiring.

Strzok and his wife, Melissa Hodgman, share an alma mater, having both completed bachelor’s degrees from Georgetown in 1991 and 1990, respectively. Strzok also completed a master’s degree at Georgetown in 2013. He served in the United States Army starting in 1991 before joining the FBI in 1996, and he worked in the FBI in capacities such as chief of counterespionage until his dismissal.

Strzok led the FBI investigations into Hillary Clinton’s email server and in 2017 was serving as a senior FBI official in Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel Investigation examining possible links between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. He was dismissed from the Mueller investigation following the discovery of private text conversations on FBI-supplied phones with a co-worker that were critical of the president, including one that called him an “idiot.” Strzok was subsequently fired from the FBI in 2018, and he has since written a memoir entitled “Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump,” which reflects upon his time in the field and the controversy that embroiled him in public scandal.

Many Republicans used Strzok’s texts as an example of systematic bias in the FBI against the Trump administration and towards Clinton, attempting to use this incident to discredit the Mueller investigation. Trump himself took to Twitter multiple times, including one post reading, “Why was the FBI’s sick loser, Peter Strzok, working on the totally discredited Mueller team of 13 Angry & Conflicted Democrats, when Strzok was giving Crooked Hillary a free pass yet telling his lover, lawyer Lisa Page, that “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming President? Witch Hunt!”

Last August, Strzok filed a lawsuit against the DOJ and the FBI alleging that his termination of employment was wrongful and that the text messages he sent were protected under the First Amendment as free speech. 

Strzok’s hiring at Georgetown has drawn criticism from supporters of Trump who view the ex-agent as a marker of liberal bias in higher education. Benny Johnson, Chief Creative Officer of the conservative non-profit Turning Point USA, wrote on Twitter, “Peter Strzok belongs in prison – not Georgetown U teaching your children how to stage coups against an elected President.” There is no evidence Strzok attempted a coup against the president. 

Strzok is slated to teach material based on his career in the FBI. His current course in the SFS, entitled “Counterintelligence and National Security” (IPOL-323), is an upper-class seminar exploring the theory and practice of counterintelligence from the standpoint of employees in intelligence with real-world case studies.

Kenneth Boggess
Kenny Boggess is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service. He is enthusiastic about Tchaikovsky, dark chocolate, and Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” series.

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