Two senior Justice Department officials who were prominently discussed in text messages exchanged by FBI personnel formerly assigned to the Trump-Russia investigation are leaving their positions, Politico reports. Mike Kortan, FBI assistant director for public affairs, will retire next week. The chief of the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, David Laufman, resigned this week. Both are discussed in text messages sent by FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page. President Trump and Republican lawmakers have argued that the texts are evidence of anti-Trump bias at senior levels of the Justice Department.
While the texts contain derogatory mentions of Trump, the messages made public so far don’t attribute that sentiment to Kortan or Laufman, and there’s no indication that either departure is related to the recent flap. Kortan has headed the FBI’s media operation since 2009. Laufman told colleagues he was leaving for personal reasons. Laufman had served since 2014 as the top Justice Department official overseeing espionage investigations, as well as cases involving foreign lobbying and leaks of classified information. That put Laufman in charge of the Hillary Clinton email probe and aspects of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, an inquiry handed off to special counsel Robert Mueller. The Strzok-Page texts suggest they held an unflattering view of Laufman and Kortan. “Kortan majorly screwed up,” said one text from Page. “I am getting aggravated at Laufman,” a message from Strzok said. The list of officials frequently discussed in the texts who are no longer in their jobs seems to grow by the day.