With the entire media apparatus focused almost exclusively on the border children fiasco, there was little coverage given to the extraordinary fallout from the FBI Inspector General report released last week. Throughout this week, a series of hearings before various House and Senate committees revealed a startling amount of information concerning the inner workings of the FBI during the Hillary email investigation and the Trump-Russia collusion investigation.
Some of the immediate fallout concerns former FBI Deputy Director Peter Strzok, an individual named several times in the report for his anti-Trump text messaging to his lover, Lisa Page. As the Washington Post reports, Strzok just had his security clearance revoked and was escorted from FBI headquarters last week:
The FBI agent who was removed from the special counsel investigation for sending anti-Trump texts was escorted from the FBI building Friday and effectively relieved of work responsibilities — though he technically remains an FBI agent, his lawyer said.
Peter Strzok already had been reassigned to the FBI’s Human Resources Division after he was taken off special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team, though the move last week effectively took him off even that assignment. The move put Strzok on notice that the bureau intends to fire him, though he has rights to appeal that are likely to delay that action.
Strzok was a key figure in two of the FBI’s most high-profile investigations: the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the separate examination of whether President Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Strzok was a particular focus of a recent Justice Department inspector general report that uncovered an August 2016 text message in which Strzok told an FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, that “we’ll stop” Trump from making it to the White House.
The inspector general also suggested that Strzok’s bias might have played a role in the FBI’s not acting expeditiously in fall 2016 to follow up on a new lead related to the Clinton email case. The inspector general’s findings were forwarded to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility to determine whether Strzok and other employees should face discipline.
At any other time, this would be the news of the day, perhaps news of the month, but it is being overshadowed this week. Essentially what we’re learning is how political bias, apparently, ran rampant at high levels within the FBI, especially concerning the 2016 election and how best to handle the Hillary email investigation. At the very minimum, it appears senior FBI officials assumed Hillary would win the presidency and, as a result, conducted their investigations and decision-making with that eventuality in mind.
One of the most damning text exchanges, which up until this point had been concealed, was when Peter Strzok told Lisa Page that Trump wouldn’t become President because, “we’ll stop it,” as The Hill reports:
Text messages disclosed Thursday in a highly anticipated report from the Justice Department’s internal watchdog showed Peter Strzok, a top investigator into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, seemingly reassuring lawyer Lisa Page that Trump would not become president, The Washington Post reported.
“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Page texted Strzok in August 2016.
“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded. [Emphasis added]
The text messages’ disclosure comes as part of the inspector general’s review of former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.
Strzok eventually found his way onto Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation to “fix unfinished business,” but was removed after these text messages were made public:
Strzok and Page were removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation over the text messages, which were obtained by internal investigators, in the summer of 2017. The exchange, however, negatively affected public perception of the office, the report found.
“The conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation,” the report says.
According to the New York Times, the hearings this week could have ramifications on the Mueller investigation:
President Trump’s congressional allies trained their fire on the special counsel investigation on Tuesday, armed anew with a damaging report showing that the lead F.B.I. agent assigned to the case held strong anti-Trump views when the inquiry began.
Mr. Trump’s loyalists in the House and other Republicans used the report, released last week by the Justice Department’s inspector general, to cast the F.B.I. as part of an out-of-touch Washington bureaucracy that disdained both Mr. Trump and the blue-collar voters who swept him into office. And they argued that the 500-page document showed that top officials let the blindfold of justice slip so that personal politics influenced their work.
At the heart of Republicans’ criticism were two senior F.B.I. officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who exchanged text messages about their dislike of Mr. Trump, his supporters and his policies — even as they investigated his campaign’s ties to Russia.
“Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart,” Mr. Strzok wrote in August 2016, just a few weeks into the Russia investigation. “I could SMELL the Trump support.”
Here we are, three years out from when Donald Trump first announced his candidacy back in June of 2015, and we’re now learning about the events that transpired during the 2016 election and the events leading to the Russia collusion investigation. We’re learning that many senior officials within the Justice Department and FBI were not performing their duties objectively, but rather using their positions to shape the outcome of a national election, and eventually attack President Trump from within his own government.
As Fox News notes, the IG report also mentioned five unnamed FBI employees involved in the Clinton/Trump investigations who showed open animosity toward Donald Trump as a candidate:
The watchdog identified five other unnamed individuals, including two agents and one FBI attorney who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe until earlier this year, who made “statements of hostility toward then-candidate Trump and statements of support for candidate Clinton,” and improperly mixed “political opinions” with case-related discussions.
“Instant messages exchanged between Agent 1, who was one of the four Midyear case agents, and Agent 5, who was a member of the filter team,” as well as “instant messages sent by FBI Attorney 2, who was assigned to the Midyear investigation,” are specifically flagged in the IG report.
“We found that the conduct of these five FBI employees brought discredit to themselves, sowed doubt about the FBI’s handling of the Midyear investigation, and impacted the reputation of the FBI,” the IG said.
According to the IG report, one FBI attorney who was later assigned to Mueller’s Russia probe until earlier this year messaged another colleague “Viva le resistance” after Trump’s election. The attorney acknowleged the message could create the “perception” of bias.
Another unnamed agent called Trump supporters “retarded,” according to the IG report.
It’s worth noting that this is one of several upcoming reports from the Inspector General concerning FBI behavior and actions around the Trump-Russia collusion case. There will be separate reports on several of these employees not named in this report, as well as a separate report on whether the FISA Court applications were tainted or fraudulent based on the Christopher Steele dossier which was not proven to be factual.
Stay tuned as this all develops in the coming weeks.