Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed Peter Strzok from his investigative staff “immediately” after learning of the texts. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein faces tough questions on Capitol Hill about the incident.
Two FBI agents assigned to the investigation into alleged collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russia exchanged text messages referring to the future president as an “idiot,” according to copies of messages turned over to Congress by the Justice Department, Politico reports. Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed agent Peter Strzok from the probe “immediately” after learning of the texts in late July, the department said. The other agent, Lisa Page, had ended her assignment to Mueller’s office. After Page commented on a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker, Strzok replied, “He’s an idiot like Trump. Figure they cancel each other out.”
The messages, which turned up during a Justice Department inspector general investigation into political influence on investigative decisions during the campaign, are fueling Republican calls for a second special counsel to investigate Mueller’s operation. About 375 texts were handed over by DOJ just before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to face a prolonged grilling Wednesday in front of the House Judiciary Committee. The exchanges show Page and Strzok mocking Trump as early as mid-2015. Responding to a Washington Post story about Trump saying it hadn’t been proven that Russian President Vladimir Putin had killed anyone, Page wrote: “What an utter idiot.” In a 2016 message, Page exclaimed: “God trump is a loathsome human….omg he’s an idiot.” Strzok replied, “He’s awful.” The last of the messages are from last December, so it’s unclear how helpful they will be to Trump allies seeking to prove that Mueller’s probe was tainted by bias.