FBI Russia probe agents’ texts imply scheme to thwart Trump 2016 victory
Text message exchanges between a former FBI agent and lawyer from 2016 suggest an insider scheme against then-candidate Donald Trump ahead of the alleged Trump-Russia collusion probe, which they both worked on.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office”-- apparently a reference to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe -- “that there's no way he gets elected -- but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40 . . . .”
That was just one of the anti-Trump text messages former FBI agent Peter Strzok sent to former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, whom he dated.
In another exchange from August 2016, Page forwarded a Trump-related article to Strzok, and wrote: “And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.”
Page’s stint with the FBI had ended by the time Strzok was removed from the special counsel Russia investigation this past summer when the text messages were apparently discovered by the FBI. The time of the text messages between the two former FBI employees spanned from August to December 2016. Strzok also helped open the investigation into alleged collusion between President Trump and Russia.
The roughly 375 text messages surfaced during a Justice Department inspector general investigation related to the FBI's inquiry into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. The texts were subsequently handed over to the Senate and House judiciary committees.
On Wednesday, the House committee referred to these messages and many more, as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to head the probe into alleged collusion between Trump and Russia, testified to the probe’s integrity.
Lawmakers on the committee asked Rosenstein if Mueller was an appropriate choice to run the Justice Department's investigation after the discovery of Strzok and Page's text messages, due to possible political bias within the special counsel's team.
“The special counsel’s investigation is not a witch hunt,” Rosenstein said. “The independence and integrity of the investigation are not going to be affected by anything that anyone says.”
Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) brought up Strzok's message that appears to state that he would try and stop Trump from becoming president.
"This goes to intent," he said. "Don't forget the timeline here, Mr. Rosenstein."
Jordan then went on to mention the events that followed the text messages, such as the dossier compiled on Trump and the investigation into Hillary Clinton.
Representative Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) grilled Rosenstein on the fact that Strzok played a large role in everything from the alleged Russia collusion investigation, to the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.
The committee also questioned Rosenstein about the FBI’s role in the creation of the now-infamous Trump dossier.
“Did the FBI pay for the dossier?” Representative Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) asked Rosenstein. The Deputy Attorney General replied that he was “not in a position to answer that question.”
DeSantis then asked if Rosenstein knew the answer to his question. Rosenstein replied, but ended his answer abruptly: “I believe I know the answer, but the Intelligence Committee is the appropriate committee…”
In 2016, Strzok, was heavily involved in former FBI Director James Comey’s investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, and was also in the room when Clinton was interviewed by the FBI in 2016, CNN reported.
Further, the former FBI agent has been cited as the individual who changed the phrasing of Comey's description of how Clinton handled classified information, from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless,” according to CNN.
This decision could have potentially raised significant legal concerns, as federal law governing the mishandling of classified material creates criminal penalties for “gross negligence,” CNN reported.