Politics

After Texts Show Bias of FBI Agents in Russia Probe, GOP Lawmakers Question Justice Official in Testy Hearing

FBI russia probe agentsRevelations that FBI investigators who were part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team sent each other derogatory text messages about Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign dominated a House hearing Wednesday featuring the No. 2 Justice Department official.

The electronic messages disparaging Trump fit into a larger pattern of partisanship undermining the integrity of Mueller’s ongoing probe into allegations the Trump campaign team colluded with Russia, according to legal analysts and government watchdogs.

The Justice Department submitted copies of about 375 of the two FBI agents’ text messages to Congress on Tuesday night, as Politico reported and Republican and Democrat lawmakers confirmed Wednesday during the House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The text messages are exchanges between Peter Strzok, an official who served in the FBI’s counterintelligence division, and Lisa Page, an FBI attorney. Strzok and Page reportedly were having an extramarital affair at the time they sent the text messages about Trump and other 2016 presidential candidates.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Strzok’s “strident” texts created an appearance of impropriety and was one reason to appoint a second special counsel to look into wrongdoing within the FBI and the Justice Department designed to “hang” Trump.

“Were you aware of just how biased Mr. Strzok was?” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during the hearing.

“No, I was not,” Rosenstein replied.

“It’s not just the FBI agents and their obvious partisanship,” Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “It is now a whole series of disturbing revelations about the lawyers hired by Mueller that show the same level of bias, partisanship, and conflicts of interest.”

The text messages first came to light as the department’s Office of Inspector General conducted an internal review of the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official business as secretary of state from 2009 through 2012.

Clinton, the Democrats’ 2016 presidential nominee, was cleared before the election of any criminal activity by then-FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired less than four months into his presidency.

The dates of the text messages by Strzok and Page range from August 2015 to December 2016,according to The Washington Times and other media outlets that obtained copies. Fox News Channel reported that officials were reviewing more than 10,000 messages.

Republican lawmakers noted that Strzok was lead investigator in the probe of Clinton’s secret email setup, and identified him as the one who urged Comey to use the words “extremely careless” rather than the legally weighted “grossly negligent” to describe Clinton’s email practices as secretary of state.

‘Loathsome Human’

Mueller removed Strzok from his investigative team about five months ago, in July, after learning of the text messages. Strzok was in charge of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s private email server prior to joining Mueller’s team.

Page, the FBI lawyer, also served on Mueller’s investigative team, but by the time Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’s probe uncovered the text messages, she had returned to other duties at the FBI.

Strzok and Page referred to Trump as an “idiot” during the Republican primaries, the text messages show. Other exchanges indicate that the pair supported Clinton for president over Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the Democratic primaries.

Politico noted a March 2016 text in which Page declared: “God trump is a loathsome human…omg he’s an idiot.”

“He’s awful,” wrote back Strzok, who also texted that Trump was an “idiot” in another exchange.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., expressed concern about partisan inclinations within the Justice Department and FBI in a statement he released during the oversight hearing, when committee members questioned Rosenstein about the text messages, the Russia probe, and the Clinton email investigation.

“Reports on the political predisposition, and potential bias, of certain career agents and department lawyers on Special Counsel Mueller’s team are deeply troubling to all citizens who expect a system of blind and equal justice,” Goodlatte said. “DOJ investigations must not be tainted by individuals imposing their own political prejudices. We are now beginning to better understand the magnitude of this insider bias on Mr. Mueller’s team.”

Rosenstein looked down during much of the litany of Strzok’s apparent conflicts in the texts cited by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former prosecutor:

‘Super Agent’

Rosenstein appointed the former FBI director as special counsel after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe because of his advisory role in the Trump campaign. The deputy attorney general repeatedly defended Mueller’s investigation during the hearing from Republican lawmakers who cited evidence of political bias on the part of key investigators.

“I’m not aware of any impropriety, I’m not aware of any violation of rules,” Rosenstein said early on, a refrain he would repeat while declining to address the appearance of impropriety.

“How with a straight face can you say that this group of Democrat partisans are unbiased and will give President Trump a fair shake?” Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, asked at one point.

“This guy thought he was super agent James Bond at the FBI,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said of Strzok, pointing to texts in which Strzok appeared to see it as his mission to protect the nation from Trump.

Jordan said Americans have lost trust in Mueller and the Russia investigation, and Rosenstein ought to disband it and begin to probe efforts within Justice and the FBI to undermine Trump as president.

The inspector general at Justice is doing that already, Rosenstein repeated.

“What’s it going to get to get a second special counsel to answer these questions?” Jordan shot back.

‘Showing Disdain’

In his statement, Goodlatte specified major issues with the special counsel’s probe of possible coordination between Trump campaign operatives and Russian officials:

First, we have FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page exchanging communications showing extreme bias against President Trump, a fact that would be bad enough if it weren’t for the fact that these two individuals were employed as part of the Mueller ‘dream team’ investigating the very person for whom they were showing disdain.

And calling it mere ‘disdain’ is generous. According to the documents produced last night to this committee, Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page referred to the president as ‘an utter idiot,’ ‘a loathsome human,’ and ‘awful,’ while continually praising Hillary Clinton and the Obamas.

These text messages prove what we all suspected: High-ranking FBI officials involved in the Clinton investigation were personally invested in the outcome of the election, and clearly let their strong political opinions cloud their professional judgment. And this was only an ‘initial disclosure,’ containing heavy redactions.

Second, former embattled FBI general counsel and current Mueller prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, expressed his ‘awe’ of a former DOJ official [acting Attorney General Sally Yates] for shunning the president and failing to faithfully execute the law. However, we are the ones now in ‘awe’ that someone like Mr. Weissmann remains on an investigative team that looks more and more partisan.

Third, we have learned that a top Mueller prosecutor, Jeannie Rhee, in addition to other actions that would normally justify recusal, served as an attorney for the Clinton Foundation. Aren’t DOJ attorneys advised to avoid even the ‘appearance of impropriety?’ A former Clinton employee is now investigating President Trump. This seems to be the very definition of  ‘appearance of impropriety.’

Fourth, we just recently learned that another top DOJ official, Bruce Ohr, has been reassigned because of his and his wife’s connections with the infamous [Trump] ‘dossier’ and the company [Fusion GPS] from whom the opposition research document originated.

‘The Runaround’

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a Washington-based nonprofit that promotes “integrity, transparency, and accountability in government,” released a YouTube statement Tuesday about what he said were “anti-Trump and pro-Hillary text messages.”

Fitton called on the Justice Department to respond to Judicial Watch’s related requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

“We are getting the runaround from this Justice Department and this FBI in our Freedom of Information Act lawsuits,” he said. “The coverup and secrecy must end. We want the documents now.”

The Justice Department did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for information Wednesday on any policy or guidelines governing text messages and other mobile messaging on government devices, and for a comment on whether the Russia probe is undermined by political bias.

Heritage’s von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal in an email that Rosenstein should revoke Mueller’s authority to pursue Russia-related questions since there are too many “conflicts of interest” at work.

He said:

How can you have lawyers working on this special investigation who represented the Clinton Foundation; represented the IT staffer who installed the home server; attended Hillary’s election eve party; supported [acting Attorney General] Sally Yates’ unprofessional and unethical behavior? All of this raises serious questions about Mueller and the lawyers he has hired and his lack of judgment. The work of this special counsel seems to now be irretrievably suspect.

After revoking Mueller’s authority, von Spakovsky said, Rosenstein “should ask the Criminal Division of the Justice Department and its career prosecutors to investigate the very narrow issue of Russian election collusion.”

No Improper Orders

During the hearing, Democrats—Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia and Eric Swalwell of California among them—asked Rosenstein whether Trump ever interfered with investigations.

“I told you I have never received any improper orders,” Rosenstein snapped to Johnson at one point.

“Are you afraid of President Trump firing you?” Johnson asked.

“No, I am not,” Rosenstein replied.

Other Democrats cast Republicans as running down the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department.

In response to questions from Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Rosenstein made an emotional defense of Mueller’s reputation, record, resume, and experience.

“I believe he was an ideal choice for this task,” Rosenstein concluded.

From - The Daily Signal - by Kevin Mooney and Ken McIntyre

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Paul R
3 years ago

Mueller is as dirty as they come! He and Resenstein were at the FBI when the Uranium One sell-out was going down and we’re part of the cover up of that! Prohibiting an undercover agent from testifying about bribery, kickbacks and extortion, in order to hide their own involvement in that treason.

EDWARD
3 years ago

I must agree. This is simply a “witch hunt”. Millions of dollars, I may add tax payers’ dollars have been wasted in trying to destroy this administration for an alleged “Russian Collusion” conspiracy and for naught. If the Democrats and the establishment Republicans, i.e., McConnell, Ryan, Flake, etc., would please allow this duly and legally elected President to govern this great country of ours without constantly setting up road blocks to hamper him it would be a great thing. The previous Administration it seems to me, that they are still running the country. An example, the limited ban on predominately Islamic countries who have the potentiality to import a portion of their populace who are “Jihadists”. The Obama Administration cleverly appointed 9th & 11th Court judges who are very “Progressive” in their points of view and have set up road blocks to block the current Administrations’ efforts to protect this country. I mean, this President is also constantly being under attack by the social media. I’m so glad he has a tough skin or he’d be admitted to a “Happy Acres” somewhere. God Bless him.

PaulE
3 years ago

The Congressional hearing yesterday with Rod Rosenstein went pretty much as expected. The mounting evidence of corruption at the upper layers of the Justice Department and several other federal agencies involved in the phony “Russian collusion” investigation were laid out. Rod Rosenstein effectively said “Nothing to see here. Move on. Move on. Trust us we know what we’re doing”. Of course Rosenstein was NOT going to agree that a second Special Council should be named to investigate the already disclosed collusion that existed between Hillary Clinton, the Democrat party, Fusion GPS and Russian assets. That is not the game being played. The whole “Russian collusion” narrative against President Trump only exists for one reason: To invalidate the 2016 election in some way and get Trump out of the WH. Rosenstein is certainly NOT going to fire his friend Mueller, who is doing EXACTLY what Rosenstein and Comey and the Democrat Party wants him to do. Create a bogus justification that would allow Trump to be removed from office. After which, Pence will also receive similar treatment and be removed. The goal is to ensure the administrative state continues along the desired progressive path and things go back to the way Obama left them. That way, we can end up exactly where the administrative state wants us. Remember all three (Mueller, Coney, Rosenstein) are wrapped up in the whole Uranium One fiasco, so Rosenstein, Mueller and Comey are covering each other’s behinds.

Judicial watch has for months laid out what should be done to shut down this farce against Trump and how to proceed against Hillary and Democrats for their real collusion efforts with the Russians. Unfortunately, they don’t have any power to enact those changes. Sessions certainly could, but he remains firmly hiding under his desk. Completely overwhelmed by the job of AG. If he steps down, then Rosenstein becomes acting AG. So that certainly doesn’t improve anything. If Sessions were to step down and Trump selected another, more energetic and committed person, that person would NOT get confirmed by Congress. The Dems would stall the hearings for months as the Mueller witch hunt continues full steam ahead and McConnell’s RINO’s would demand a more “balanced choice” than anyone that would make the Trump short list. Code for someone more agreeable to the status quo. Of course the mainstream media, the Democrats and RINO’s in the Senate would all scream bloody murder. So it would be up to President Trump to keep the American people behind him. I would expect his current supporters would remain loyal and support his choices going forward. Those already aligned against him and his agenda would of course continue to try and obstruct President trump at every turn. So as much as we would like this nonsense to stop in Washington and have the country move forward in unison, the reality is half the country wants the Democrat view for America and they will NOT either stand down nor change their views. So we must continue to be prepared for this long fight for the nation to continue for quite some time.

Rik
3 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

Hi PaulE, I know this is like preaching to the choir, but to me it’s just Common Sense, or I should say the lack of Common Sense. Why would anybody even think that President Trump was in collusion with the Russians to help him get elected? If the American Communist Party HAD ENDORSED OBAMA (Twice) AND HILLARY, why would the Russians want Trump to be elected? Again, it’s just Liberal philosophy, blame and accuse your opponent of exactly what you, yourselves are! … Prepare yourselves, People, we’re going to have to fight to win back our country!!!

PaulE
3 years ago
Reply to  Rik

HI Rik,

Wrote you a detailed reply, but it got flagged. So I’ll make this brief. It was publicly disclosed before Trump was sworn in, that Mook and Podesta made the whole Russian collusion story up. However, once the Democrat leadership saw how their base latched onto the phony story, the mainstream media was quickly marshaled to bury the story. With a willing assist from the RINO Republicans, who don’t want the Trump agenda either, this nonsense has been allowed to escalate to what we have today. The administrative state wants a return to the status quo and that means they will stop at nothing to try to get Trump out of office or neutralize his ability to get anything done. If that means the RINO Republicans have to sit on their hands and give control of Congress back to the Democrats in order to stop the Trump agenda, I seriously believe a number of them will try to do just that.

Hank
3 years ago
Reply to  Rik

You’re right Rik – they’re blowing smoke. It’s typical 1984 lip service – blame the opposition for what you yourself are guilty.

JCB
3 years ago

This is the net result when Fascist Democratic Party and Politicians control the media, the College Education and all education faculties pushing their propaganda and their hidden agendas, the Democratic Party should be investigated and prosecuted along with their idiots like Obama, Clinton, Bill and Hillary, Tester, Schulmer, Feinstein etc They are the NEW National Socialist Party formerly known as the NAZI Regime

Mimi
3 years ago

Why can’t we stop this wasting of taxpayer money being spent to discredit our duly elected President??
Those leftist liberals are way out of control. No conscience – just run roughshod around and over the facts and lie about things like tax reform is going to benefit only the rich. I could go on, but you get what I mean. Why can’t they be stopped? They tell blatant lies that should be exposed.

Hank
3 years ago

I agree with Rosenstein that Democrats should be on the team to investigate Trump. Shouldn’t we then have Republicans on the team to investigate the Clintons? That way it is less likely there will be collusion within the FBI.

Tim
3 years ago

This is an existential, Constitutional crisis. We are seeing the Leviathan crawling out of the swamp. It is frustrating and sad to watch, and hopefully there is enough left in the American spirit to renew “the last best hope for a mankind plagued by tyranny and deprivation.”

john boy
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Remember the “O” said he will fundamentally change America…..and this is the result?????

Doloes Aams
3 years ago

What in the world is wrong with all these people attacking our President? He promised to make America great again and is doing a bang up job, so far.
But a lot of democrats and liberals don’t agree and are doing their best to take him down. I’m getting sick of it.

Hen3ry
3 years ago
Reply to  Doloes Aams

SHE gets exonerated &
Trump et al gets hounded
For the Deep State and Obama holdovers
Mission accomplished
Who or What can we trust anymore

Burton Pauly
3 years ago

This whole investigation of President Trump is a farce, and should be redirected to the ex- Sec. State Hillary Clinton, and her E-mail at her residence, and her dealings with the Russians. The dishonest FBI employees that were biased, and their lowering the degree of her offences so that she could escape prosecution. This frigging investigation should be shut down ASAP.

john boy
3 years ago

not seen on cnn/msnbc/abc/cbs….et al

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