Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s top FBI investigator into ‘Russian meddling’ and Clinton emails has been removed from the probe reportedly due to the discovery of anti-Trump text messages exchanged with a colleague (who he happened to be having an extra-marital affair with).
FBI veteran, Peter Strzok, tapped by special counsel Robert Mueller just weeks ago to help lead the probe of Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election, has left Mueller’s team.
As ABC reports, this is the first known hitch in a secretive probe that, by all public accounts, is charging full steam ahead. ABC reported that it’s unclear why Strzok stepped away from Mueller’s team of nearly two dozen lawyers, investigators and administrative staffers.
Strzok, who has spent much of his law enforcement career working counterintelligence cases and has been unanimously praised by government officials who spoke with ABC News, is now working for the FBI’s human resources division.
However, more details were leaked from anonymous sources close to the matter to The Washington Post that Strzok was removed from the investigation after the Justice Department’s inspector general began examining whether the agent had sent text messages that expressed anti-Trump political views, according to three people briefed on the matter.
During the Clinton investigation, Strzok was involved in a romantic relationship with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who worked for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The extramarital affair was problematic, these people said, but of greater concern among senior law enforcement officials were text messagesthe two exchanged during the Clinton investigation and campaign season, in which they expressed anti-Trump sentiments and other comments that appeared to favor Clinton.
The people discussing the matter did not further describe the political messages between Strzok and Page, except to say the two would sometime react to campaign news of the moment.
Officials are now reviewing the communications to see if they show evidence of political bias in their work on the cases, a review which could result in a public report, according to people familiar with the matter.
At the time they left Mueller’s group, no one publicly linked the two departures.
For months, officials have refused to explain why Strzok was reassigned, but people familiar with the matter said it was ultimately Mueller’s decision.
As WaPo concludes, the president’s most vociferous defenders in Congress have called for a special counsel to investigate how the FBI handled the Clinton probe, and other Clinton-connected matters. Word of the texts could give new fuel to those demands.
We suspect Page and Strzok were not alone in their anti-Trumpedness, but we do note that the implicitly pro-Trump ‘leak’ of these Mueller-probe-embarrassing details is a seachange from the usual torrent of ‘gotcha’ leaks designed to further the Deep State’s grip on the administration.