Mueller Removed Top Agent in Russia Inquiry Over Possible Anti-Trump Texts

A lawyer for Mr. Strzok didn’t return a number of messages looking for remark. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department stated that “we are aware of the allegation and are taking any and all appropriate steps.” ABC News reported in August that Mr. Strzok had left the investigation, however the cause for the transfer was unclear on the time.

Mr. Strzok’s reassignment reveals that Mr. Mueller moved swiftly in the face of what could possibly be perceived as bias by one in every of his brokers amid a politically charged inquiry into Mr. Trump’s marketing campaign and administration. But the existence of the textual content messages is more likely to gasoline claims by Mr. Trump that he’s the goal of a witch hunt.

The discovery of the textual content messages got here at a vital second in Mr. Mueller’s investigation. At the time, Mr. Mueller was ramping up his inquiry into Mr. Trump’s former advisers, whereas additionally coming beneath criticism for placing many donors to Democratic candidates on his group. Some conservatives inspired Mr. Trump to fireside Mr. Mueller, saying the investigation was tainted. Mr. Trump significantly entertained the concept however finally backed down.

It shouldn’t be clear what Mr. Strzok stated in his textual content messages. F.B.I. rules enable brokers to precise opinions “as an individual privately and publicly on political subjects and candidates.”

Current and former regulation enforcement officers who labored with Mr. Strzok stated that they had by no means seen any proof that he allowed his political opinions to affect the investigations he led. They stated that Mr. Strzok, a former Army officer, was deeply trusted by James B. Comey, the previous F.B.I. director, and that he would most likely have turn into one of many bureau’s prime officers had the questions not been raised about his textual content messages.

The inquiry into Mr. Strzok is being performed by the Justice Department’s inspector basic, Michael E. Horowitz, who’s main a broad examination of how the F.B.I. dealt with the Clinton electronic mail investigation. It shouldn’t be clear whether or not Mr. Horowitz will make the textual content messages public as a part of his report in the inquiry. Mr. Horowitz, who introduced the start of his investigation in January, declined to characterize his findings however stated that he hoped to have a duplicate of his report launched by March or April.

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