In yet another blow to Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the special counsel was forced to fire a top FBI agent after possible anti-Trump text messages were discovered.
New York Times reports:
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, removed a top F.B.I. agent from his investigation into Russian election meddling 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. The agent, Peter Strzok, is considered one of the most experienced and trusted F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators. He helped lead the investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information on her private email account, and then played a major role in the investigation into links between President Trump’s campaign and Russia. […] The people briefed on the case said the transfer followed the discovery of text messages in which Mr. Strzok and a colleague reacted to news events, like presidential debates, in ways that could appear critical of Mr. Trump.
In August, ABC News reported that Strzok quit Team Mueller for unknown reasons. “It’s unclear why Strzok stepped away from Mueller’s team of nearly two dozen lawyers, investigators and administrative staff. 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,” reported Mike Levine.
After new details emerged about Strzok’s firing, the Washington Post revealed the Justice Department launched an investigation into “communications between certain individuals.” Details of the mystery probe will be revealed “promptly upon completion of the review of them.’’
It’s rare an investigation is announced without a motive. The press has been left in the dark as to who is under review and why.
In addition, the Washington Post published new, salacious details of an affair Strzok was having with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, an aide to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Strzok and Page reportedly exchanged ‘anti-Trump,’ texts messages.
“The extramarital affair was problematic, these people said, but 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,” reports Karoun Demirjian and Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post.
Another relevant nugget pertains to Page working for McCabe, who’s wife is very pro-Hillary.
[C]oncerns came after revelations by media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, that a political action committee affiliated with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who has ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, contributed almost $500,000 to the 2015 Virginia state Senate campaign of McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe. (She lost the election.) She also received $207,788 from the Virginia Democratic Party, which is connected to McAuliffe, a Democrat.
Mail: Congress asks why FBI Deputy Director whose wife took $675,000 in Clinton related cash is on Clinton casehttps://t.co/ITMGPNJeVJ
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 2, 2016
Mueller worried about the affair because it posed a potential risk, as foreign intelligence agencies could have used the information to blackmail agents.
Details of Strzok’s firing come amid Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying to FBI agents about making contact with Russian Ambassador Kislyak during the transition period.