The top FBI official assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election was taken off that job this summer after his bosses found that he and another member of Mueller’s team exchanged politically charged texts disparaging President Trump and supporting Hillary Clinton, the Washington Post reports. Peter Strzok, deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI, was a key player in the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, as well as the probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. During the Clinton investigation, Strzok was involved in a romantic relationship with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who worked for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
The extramarital affair was problematic, and the two exchanged text messages during the Clinton investigation and campaign season in which they expressed anti-Trump sentiments and other comments that appeared to favor Clinton. The Justice Department inspector general’s office is investigating. When the issue arose, Strzok was taken off the Mueller team and was given a job in the human resources division, widely viewed as a demotion. Among federal law enforcement officials, there is concern that exposure of the texts they exchanged may be used by the president and his defenders to attack the credibility of the Mueller probe and the FBI more broadly.