Peter Strzok, the top FBI agent who is on the Congressional hot seat for allegedly sending anti-Donald Trump texts, is married to Melissa Hodgman, an official at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Strzok’s father, who is also named Peter Paul Strzok, is a former humanitarian organization director and U.S. Army major who raised his family, including the FBI agent, partly in Iran and Africa but who has deep family roots in Wisconsin.
An obituary confirms that Strzok is married to Hodgman, 49, who was named to her position with the SEC in October 2016. Peter Strzok, a top counter-terrorism agent in the FBI, was quietly removed from Robert Mueller’s probe into President Donald Trump and his associates when Mueller learned that Strzok had allegedly sent the texts.
On July 12, 2018, he was questioned by members of Congress and heatedly denied that his texted opinions about Trump influenced the investigations into the president and Hillary Clinton.
“I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity,” Strzok told members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees during the heated hearing. “I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt.”
The hearing was so contentious that at one point Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas told Strzok: “I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eye and lie to her about Lisa,” referring to Lisa Page, the woman with whom Strzok had an affair.
Here’s what you need to know about Peter Strzok’s family:
1. Strzok’s Wife, Melissa Hodgman, Pledged ‘Tough But Fair’ Enforcement at the SEC
Hodgman started working in the enforcement division at the SEC in 2008 as a staff attorney and was promoted to assistant director in 2012. She investigated numerous cases of fraud and earned a $229,968 salary in 2016, FederalPay.org reported.
“I am honored by this appointment and look forward to continuing our tradition of pursuing tough but fair enforcement actions in complex and cutting-edge cases, especially matters involving cross-border issues and efforts to hold gatekeepers accountable for breaches of their professional standards,” Hodgman said in a news release.
According to an SEC press release, “Before joining the SEC staff, Ms. Hodgman worked as an associate at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in Washington. Ms. Hodgman earned her masters of law with distinction in securities and financial regulation in 2007 from Georgetown University Law Center, her law degree with high honors from Georgetown University Law Center in 1994, and her bachelor of science degree from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 1990. Ms. Hodgman received the Ellen B. Ross Award as well as an SEC Chairman’s Award in 2010.”
The press release on Hodgman’s SEC promotion lists some of the cases she’s been involved in, and all involve variations of financial fraud. However, one prominent prosecution crumbled. The press release lists these cases as noteworthy:
“The SEC’s first case against a brokerage firm for failing to file SARs when appropriate.
Fraud charges against a Wall Street CEO and his company, family members, and business associates accused of secretly obtaining control and manipulating the stock of Chinese companies they were purportedly guiding through the process of raising capital and becoming publicly-traded in the United States
Fraud and other related charges against China North East Petroleum Holdings, its CEO, President and former Chairman of the Board of Directors, and others arising from their alleged diversion of offering proceeds to the personal accounts of corporate insiders and their immediate family members and fraudulent conduct in connection with at least 176 undisclosed related-party transactions.
Charges against Charles Schwab Investment Management, Charles Schwab & Co., and two executives for making misleading statements regarding the Schwab YieldPlus Fund and failing to establish, maintain and enforce policies and procedures to prevent the misuse of material, nonpublic information.”
Hodgman “has led the Enforcement Division’s Cross-Border Working Group, which provides expertise and assistance of matters with international actors and implications,” the press release adds. “Ms. Hodgman also co-founded and served as the enforcement representative on the Chair’s Attorney Honors Program, and is a member of the Enforcement Division’s hiring committee at its Washington D.C. headquarters.”
“Melissa has supervised and investigated a broad range of noteworthy and first-of-their-kind cases across the spectrum of the securities industry and involving misconduct located around the world,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, said in the news release. “She has distinguished herself with her excellent judgment and creativity, and I am pleased to have her join the senior ranks of the Enforcement Division.”
One case in particular has caused controversy, however. In 2015, she supervised the investigation that led to “fraud charges against a Wall Street CEO and his company, family members, and business associates accused of secretly obtaining control and manipulating the stock of Chinese companies they were purportedly guiding through the process of raising capital and becoming publicly-traded in the United States,” an SEC press release says. In that case, the SEC alleged that “Benjamin Wey and New York Global Group (NYGG) typically structured reverse mergers between clients and publicly-traded shell companies in such a way that he and other family members secretly obtained ownership interests of more than five percent of the newly listed companies,” the release said.
Also charged: Wey’s “two attorneys Robert Newman and William Uchimoto.” The involvement of Uchimoto in the case has led to controversy online. According to the New York Law Journal, “A federal judge in Manhattan on Monday threw out civil securities fraud claims against William Uchimoto.” The case against Wey also fell completely apart.
“U.S. securities regulators…moved to drop their fraud case against Wall Street financier Benjamin Wey, about a month after prosecutors dropped a related criminal case after a judge threw out some evidence,” Reuters reported. According to Reuters, “The criminal case against Wey collapsed in June, when U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan ruled that a huge cache of materials seized from Wey’s home and offices could not be used because they were obtained with overly broad search warrants that violated Wey’s constitutional rights.”
The article continued, “Nathan said the seizure of items such as children’s school records, family photos and X-rays at minimum reflected ‘grossly negligent or reckless disregard’ of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.”
2. Peter Strzok’s Dad Took His Family to Iran
Peter Strzok, the FBI agent, spent time living in Iran and Africa during his childhood, old newspaper clippings about his father, who is also named Peter Paul Strzok, show.
The elder Strzok is a former U.S. Army major who spent significant time in the Middle East and African continent, according to the clippings, which show the Strzok family also has deep ties to Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Another newspaper clipping confirms that Major Peter Strzok and his wife welcomed a son, Peter, on the FBI agent’s birth date. The family name goes far back. World War II draft records show there was also a Peter Paul Strzok who was born in Thorp, Wisconsin in 1891. The FBI agent’s father is 82-years-old. Military registers confirm the father was an Army major. Old phone directories give Peter Strzok, the agent, as Peter P. Strzok II. The FBI agent embroiled in the controversy also served in the U.S. Army.
In 1979, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin Leader-Telegram ran an article that discussed Peter Strzok, the dad. It said that Strzok, the dad, had just left Iran that February. The newspaper said that the dad “hopes the government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini will stabilize the country.”
The article noted: “Strzok’s wife and eight-year-old son, Peter, returned to the U.S. Jan. 6.” His wife , the agent’s mother, Virginia, was a teacher at the American school in Tehran and Peter Strzok, the father, “was working for a firm which sold and serviced 2,000 helicopters for the Iranian government.”
It quoted the elder Strzok as saying, “I’d like very much to go back to Iran,” and it adds that Strzok spent “two terms of military service and seven months as a civilian in the country.”
It says that Strzok was a support unit manager for Bell Helicopter, Inc., and says the paper asked Strzok about the “issue of treatment of Americans in Iran.”
He said the “resentment of America was because Iranians linked the U.S. involved (sic) with the Shah,” explained the Leader-Telegram.
The article quotes Strzok as saying, “When you have a country where hundreds were killed and only two Americans out of the thousands in that country were slain, you can’t make a case of physical violence against Americans,” noting that no Americans were killed in the attack on the American embassy. He said that he hoped “Khomeini would be able to unite those factions and form a stable government,” the newspaper reported.
According to the article, the elder Strzok returned to Iran in July 1978 after retiring as a Lt. Col. With the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The article concluded by saying the elder Strzok was planning to fly to Saudi Arabia next to “check on a new job with a construction enterprise.”
Online records now give the elder Strzok as living in North Carolina but with previous addresses in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Virginia. According to Guide Star, in 1986, Peter Strzok the dad was listed as the principal agent for a non-profit called International Agricultural Development with the North Carolina address. The non-profit was listed as an agency to facilitate the growth of rural organizations.
An old newspaper article from 1969 also referred to “Major Peter Strzok, chairman, Reserve Officers Training Corps Department, Lake Superior State College in Sault Ste. Marie.”
3. Strzok’s Dad Was Developing a Program to Send Midwestern Farm Equipment to Iraq & Once Argued for Military Censorship
A 2003 article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Strzok, the father, was living in Washburn, Wisconsin and “is independently organizing a program that involves sending reconditioned tractors, tillers, and other aid to northern Iraq, where conditions are more secure than in the country’s middle and southern regions.”
The article says that Strzok, the father, “formerly directed humanitarian and development programs in the Middle East.”
Peter Strzok, the dad, is also mentioned in a column in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that ran in 1991. The column is called “If you ran the paper,” and the headline on the column reads, “Reader says he sees need for military censorship.”
The article says Strzok “was disturbed” by a column the writer ran about a reporter who used a fax in a war zone to “avoid censorship.” Strzok also took issue with the writer’s opinion that “the Pentagon’s effort to control access to the news backfired in some ways.”
Strzok asked the newspaper, “Was he placing British commandos at risk by detailing their operations and methods used?”
Strzok added, “I spent two tours in Vietnam, two in Saudi Arabia and three in Iran. I think I understand the absolute need for reporter oversight in combat actions.” He called it a “professional unable to police itself.”
A 2003 article in the Fond du Lac Commonwealth Reporter newspaper in Wisconsin reprinted an Associated Press story that reported Strzok, the elder, “thinks the Midwest’s old sheds and barns contain something that could help Iraq’s shaky economy: farm equipment.”
He planned to collect the equipment in Ashland, Wisconsin, recondition it and then truck it to Duluth, Minnesota to ship it to Iraq.
He also wrote a column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1986. In it, he described visiting the Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Gambia to “see the condition of the crops.”
Peter Strzok, the dad, is the son of Michael John Strzok, who died at age 96, in 2002 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, according to his obit. Michael Strzok was formerly of Thorp, Clark County and Gilman, Wisconsin. The funeral service was in a Catholic church.
It was a farming family. Michael Strzok “was born Aug. 19, 1905, in Thorp to John and Maryanne (nee Polnaszek) Strzok. He married Josephine Badzinski on Sept. 2, 1929, and she died on Nov. 1, 1997. They farmed in rural Gilman where he expanded to trucking, livestock sales and became a partner in the Mattes Livestock Sales. He was also in partnership in Gilman Farm Service,” his obituary says.
Michael Strzok had 11 children, of which Peter Paul Strzok, the FBI agent’s dad, is one of them. The other Strzok children (the aunts and uncles of the FBI agent) include an Arizona doctor and a priest based in Kenya, Africa named Fr. James Strzok. The FBI agent’s mother is named Virginia Sue Strzok, the obit says.
4. When Peter Strzok Was Growing Up, His Dad Moved the Family to Africa & Then Worked in Haiti
A 1983 article in The Bismarck Tribune said that Peter Strzok, the father, worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, helping “the governments of underdeveloped nations.”
After he retired, he “began working with Catholic Relief Services, this time dealing directly with the struggling farm families in the impoverished African nation of Upper Volta,” the newspaper article reported.
After three years in Upper Volta, the elder Strzok took an assignment as director of Catholic Relief Services in Haiti. One goal: Reduce the infant mortality rate. He also worked in a food assistance program. The article stated that he was married with a then-13-year-old son. (The FBI agent Strzok is now 48.)
“He said his family has a good attitude about the lifestyle, but every now and then his son wishes for a television video game,” the newspaper reported, adding the father said his “value system changed when he moved to Upper Volta.” People “spend their time working to survive,” according to the newspaper.
In 1983, the Wisconsin State Journal also ran a story on Peter Strzok’s dad. The story says the elder Strzok served 21 years in the Army before retiring. Instead, he “moved his family to Upper Volta, an almost barren nation in Africa, where he is program director for Catholic Relief Services,” says the article.
The newspaper reported that the elder Strzok ran a program teaching farmers how to be more effective. The article said Strzok grew up on a dairy farm.
Another article in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram in 1981 quoted the father as saying the Upper Volta area of Africa was “very primitive” and “rough.” It said that he ran a $25 million program
“He and his wife and son have lived in Africa for three years,” said the article.
“I really believe the world has to address the problem of developing countries,” he told the newspaper.
5. The Younger Strzok Attended High School in Minnesota & Then Entered the Army Himself
A 1987 article in the St. Cloud Daily Times lists the younger Peter Strzok as Peter P. Strzok II, of Minneapolis, son of Peter and Virginia Strzok. “Peter plans to attend Georgetown University, Washington D.C.,” the article says, listing his activities in high school at St. John’s Prep as golf club, speech, National Honor Society, student newspaper and yearbook.
Strzok graduated from Georgetown University, a list of donors to the university showed. Strzok earned his master’s degree from the school in 2013, the list indicated. In 2012, Strzok and his wife, Melissa Hodgman, also a Georgetown alum, donated between $2,500-4,999 to their alma mater.
The Wall Street Journal has called Strzok “one of the FBI’s most experienced counterintelligence agents.” Hodgman started working in the enforcement division at the SEC in 2008 as a staff attorney and was promoted to assistant director in 2012.
Peter Strzok is a former Army officer, according to The New York Times. Little is known about Strzok’s time in the military, however.
Both Hodgman and Strzok graduated from Georgetown University, a list of donors to the university showed. Strzok earned his master’s degree from the school in 2013, the list indicated. In 2012, the couple donated between $2,500-4,999 to their alma mater.
Hodgman and Strzok also donated between $250-499 to the Shakespeare Theatre Company, a 2007-08 annual report said. The couple live in the Fairfax, Virginia area and purchased a home for $520,000 in June 2003, according to public real estate records.
An obituary for Hodgman’s mother showed the mother lived in New York and is from Pennsylvania and reads, “A beautiful woman, loving mother, grandmother, writer and humanist passed away November 15, 2010 at age 67.” It says that Melissa Hodgman is one of three children.
Peter Strzok has had a hand in many of the FBI’s most recent controversies. Fox News reported that “Strzok, a former deputy to the assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, oversaw the bureau’s interviews with ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, changed former FBI Director James Comey’s early draft language about Hillary Clinton’s actions regarding her private email server from ‘grossly negligent’ to ‘extremely careless’ and reportedly helped push the largely unverified dossier on Trump that was initially prepared by Fusion GPS for the Clinton campaign’s opposition research.”
According to The Washington Post, during the Clinton investigation, “Strzok was involved in a romantic relationship with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who worked for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.” McCabe himself has been criticized because his wife received money from groups with alliances to Clinton. According to Newsweek, “It’s true that for her campaign, Jill McCabe received a total of $675,288 from two entities associated with McAuliffe: a political action committee and the Virginia Democratic Party.” She was running for Virginia’s senate at the time. “McAuliffe is a longtime friend of Hillary and Bill Clinton,” reported Newsweek.
Strzok exchanged messages with Page that helped lead to his ouster from the Mueller team, the Post reported. “Of greater concern among senior law enforcement officials were text messages the two exchanged during the Clinton investigation and campaign season in which they expressed anti-Trump sentiments and other comments that appeared to favor Clinton,” according to the newspaper.
According to The Daily Caller, “Strzok’s text messages with Page, his mistress, were first discovered by the Justice Department’s inspector general as part of an investigation that has been conducting into the FBI and DOJ’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.”
The site adds, “Strzok, a former Army officer, was the lead FBI investigator on that inquiry, too. He conducted the July 2, 2016, interview with Clinton herself. He was attended by David Laufman, a Justice Department lawyer and Obama donor.”
“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” the lawyer, Lisa Page, wrote to Strzok, according to The Post.
“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded, The Post says the IG report reveals. The text was sent in August 2016 only a few months before the presidential election, and after the FBI had started its investigation into Trump campaign aides, according to The Post.
Because of Peter Strzok’s text messages, “we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation” was free from bias, an Inspector General’s report, that looked into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, said.
The report stated, “In assessing the decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop, we were particularly concerned about text messages sent by Strzok and Page that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions they made were impacted by bias or improper considerations. Most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia investigation, and the implication in some of these text messages, particularly Strzok’s August 8 text message (“we’ll stop” candidate Trump from being elected), was that Strzok might be willing to take official action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects. Under these circumstances, we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.”