Mueller Reportedly Removed FBI Agent from Investigation Due to Anti-Trump Texts

Mueller Reportedly Removed FBI Agent from Investigation Due to Anti-Trump Texts

The special counsel examining alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election removed a top FBI investigator from his team for exchanging text messages with a colleague that expressed anti-Trump views, two USA newspapers reported on Saturday.

As the investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election has progressed, one thing has become very clear: special counsel Robert Mueller takes his job very seriously.

According to the Post, Strzok was reportedly having an affair with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer who worked for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, at the time he was also helping lead the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.

Strzok also worked on the FBI investigation a year ago into whether then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information through her use of private email servers while Secretary of State.

Defenders of Strzok and Page inside the Federal Bureau of Investigation said that because there was no direct supervisory role between Page and Strzok in the workplace, there wasn't anything professionally wrong about having an affair, but added they understood why Mueller would not want anyone engaged in such conduct on his team.

The Justice Department's inspector general has been looking into Strzok's actions and indicated in a statement Saturday that the review is part of broader investigations announced in January of how the FBI and Justice Department handled matters associated with the 2016 presidential election.

"Immediately upon learning of the allegations, the Special Counsel's Office removed Peter Strzok from the investigation", Special Counsel's Office spokesperson Peter Carr told BuzzFeed News. The FBI declined to comment.

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According to reports from the Times and Washington Post, special agent Peter Strzok was removed from the investigation after his superiors discovered he and another agent on the team exchanged text messages "disparaging" President Donald Trump and "supporting" Hillary Clinton during last year's election.

Trump supporters will likely view the revelations about Strzok as a path toward discrediting the Mueller probe.

Officials are examining the texts for evidence of bias in the Clinton and Trump investigations.

According to the Times, Strzok was reassigned after the Justice Department's inspector general discovered text messages on his phone that could be interpreted as critical of Trump.

Attempts by the Times and the Post to reach Strzok and Page were unsuccessful.

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".

Mr. Strzok's reassignment shows that Mr. Mueller moved swiftly in the face of what could be perceived as bias by one of his agents amid a politically charged inquiry into Mr. Trump's campaign and administration.

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