- FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page reportedly exchanged a text message saying “we’ll stop” Donald Trump from becoming president.
- Strzok and Page previously worked on the Russia investigation, and their names made headlines last year when it emerged they expressed anti-Trump and pro-Hillary Clinton views in messages to one another.
- While a highly anticipated report from inspector general Michael Horowitz will criticise the officials’ conduct, he reportedly concluded there is no evidence that they acted improperly or tried to influence the outcome of the investigation.
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Two FBI officials who previously worked with the special counsel Robert Mueller once exchanged a text that said, “We’ll stop” Donald Trump from becoming president, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The text was disclosed in a highly anticipated report the Justice Department inspector general is set to release on Thursday. The report centres around the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business while she was secretary of state.
The officials who exchanged the text, FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, have become lightning rods in the tug-of-war between Republicans and Democrats over the legitimacy of the Russia investigation.
Overseen by Mueller, the probe is examining whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the 2016 election in his favour.
Strzok’s and Page’s names first made headlines last year, when it emerged that they exchanged several text messages that demonstrated pro-Clinton and anti-Trump political views. Thousands of their text messages have since been released to the public.
Trump and his Republican allies seized on the text messages, saying they showed that officials at the FBI were biased against Trump and on a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
Inspector general Michael Horowitz will criticise Strzok’s and Page’s conduct in Thursday’s report, according to The New York Times.
Officials told the outlet that while Horowitz concluded that Strzok’s views may have led him to prioritise the Russia probe over the Clinton email investigation toward the end of the campaign, there is no evidence that Strzok acted improperly or tried to influence the outcome of the investigation.
“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed,” Horowitz will reportedly conclude. “The conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation.”
Horowitz will also sharply criticise former FBI director James Comey as taking actions that were “insubordinate” while overseeing the Clinton investigation.
In particular, the report is said to focus on two controversial decisions Comey made. One was to hold a press conference in July 2016 announcing that the FBI would not be recommending charges against Clinton.
The other was to send a letter to Congress in October 2016, eleven days before Election Day, announcing that the FBI was reopening the Clinton email investigation.
The report will reportedly say that Comey “deviated” from FBI norms when he made those calls. It will also criticise him for usurping the authority of the attorney general at the time, Loretta Lynch, by calling the impromptu July 2016 presser.
Comey has said it makes him “nauseous” to think his actions may have affected the outcome of the 2016 election, but he maintains that he did what he thought was right at the time.
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