Top FBI agent removed from Mueller's team over anti-Trump texts

Dec 04, 2017, 00:54
Top FBI agent removed from Mueller's team over anti-Trump texts

The office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed a top investigator amid allegations that he had sent text messages appearing critical of President Donald Trump, the office confirmed to The New York Times on Saturday.

The agent, Peter Strzok, a counterintelligence veteran, was reassigned when the Justice Department inspector general's office found potentially disparaging texts he sent to a colleague, The Washington Post and The New York Times first reported.

Strzok was removed this summer after the inspector general of Justice Department discovered him and another person from Mueller's team exchanging anti-Trump text messages.

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Mr Trump wrote that after years under fired FBI director James Comey, "with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more)", the agency's reputation "is in Tatters - worst in History!"

Clinton and her supporters say Comey's moves in October cost her the 2016 election, and Trump and his Republican allies have used it to justify Comey's firing - the event that ultimately led to Mueller being appointed as special counsel.

The content of Strzok's text messages has not been publicly revealed.

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The agent, Peter Strzok, is considered one of the most experienced and trusted FBI counterintelligence investigators. Mr. Horowitz is scrutinizing Mr. Comey's decision to hold a news conference in July 2016 to announce that the bureau was recommending that Mrs. Clinton not be charged, and how Mr. Comey reopened the investigation just days before the 2016 election.

Strzok's attorney refused to comment on the publication. A Justice Department spokeswoman said "We are aware of the allegations and are taking any and all appropriate steps". Strzok was re-assigned to the FBI's human resources department, a move many saw as a demotion.

On Saturday, following the reports about Strzok, the inspector general's office said in a statement that as part of its investigation, "the OIG has been reviewing allegations involving communications between certain individuals, and will report its findings regarding those allegations promptly upon completion of the review of them".

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Mueller is overseeing the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. Some conservatives encouraged Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Mueller, saying the investigation was tainted.