Fact Check

Did Fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok Tweet That President Trump is a 'Dictator,' a 'Russian Asset,' and an 'Unhinged Madman?'

A parody account in Strzok's name issued the combative tweet in the wake of the FBI agent's firing for sending text messages critical of President Trump.

Published Aug 14, 2018

Image Via C-Span
Former FBI agent Peter Strzok issued a tweet calling President Trump a "dictator," a "Russian asset," and an "unhinged madman."

The long FBI career of former special agent Peter Strzok came to an unceremonious end on 13 August 2018, when he was fired after a review of his conduct related to an exchange of private text messages in which he disparaged Donald Trump.

Trump, who had inveighed against Strzok via Twitter on previous occasions, hailed the agent's termination in a series of fresh tweets:

On the day of his firing, a tweet issued from an account opened in Strzok's name using the handle "@_peterstrzok" hurled a string of insults back at Trump, calling the president "an unhinged madman threatening the sovereignty of the United States of America":

I have been fired for expressing my personal opinion in private texts about a dictator that history will soon deem not only a Russian asset but an unhinged madman threatening the sovereignty of the United States of America.

That post was retweeted a number of times by high-profile users who apparently hadn't noticed that the account wasn't verified and assumed it was legitimate. One of those was CNN politics reporter Chris Cillizza:

But Cillizza was informed that the account wasn't real and issued a correction an hour or two later:

It was, in fact, a parody account listing May 2016 as its founding date and offering no clear indication of its counterfeit status apart from containing only a handful of tweets:

By the next day, however, the account's handle had been changed to the more obvious "@notpeterstrzok," and its profile was edited to read, "Peter Strzok is former FBI agent and Army veteran. Parody account -- paying tribute to Peter Strzok."

One reason the ersatz account succeeding in fooling people was that its first tweet was a take-off on Peter Strzok's actual Twitter response to being fired.

This is the fake version:

And this was what the real Peter Strzok tweeted from his verified account earlier that same day:


Associated Press.   "FBI Fires Peter Strzok in Wake of Anti-Trump Text Messages."     13 August 2018.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.