WASHINGTON — Senior F.B.I. officials who helped investigate Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign final year wrote in text messages that Hillary Clinton “just has to win” and described a possible Trump victory as “terrifying,” according to texts released Tuesday evening.
A best counterintelligence agent, Peter Strzok, exchanged the messages with Lisa Page, a senior F.B.I. lawyer. Some messages criticized Mrs. Clinton’s group, the Obama administration, Congress and other Democrats. But the two appeared appalled at some of Mr. Trump’s comments during the campaign and feared that he would politicize the F.B.I.
For example, soon after Mr. Trump produced an apparent sexual allusion related to the size of his hands, Ms. Web page wrote: “This man can’t be president.” In another exchange, Mr. Strzok wrote of a prospective Trump presidency, “I’m scared for our organization.” He also referred to Mr. Trump as a “douche.” The messages had been turned more than to Congress and obtained by The New York Occasions.
Mr. Strzok went on to grow to be one of the top investigators for the specific counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. But over the summer time, Mr. Mueller removed Mr. Strzok from his team as quickly as he became aware of the texts. Their release is certain to fuel suspicion among Republicans that the investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia was politically motivated from the starting.
The Justice Department’s inspector common, Michael E. Horowitz, is investigating the texts as element of a wide-ranging inquiry into how the F.B.I. handled its investigations into Mrs. Clinton’s personal e-mail server and of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. It is highly uncommon for the government to release these sorts of documents till such an investigation is total. The move caught internal investigators by surprise.
F.B.I. regulations allow agents to express opinions “as an individual privately and publicly on political subjects and candidates.”
On July 27, Ms. Page wrote, “She just has to win now. I’m not going to lie, I got a flash of nervousness yesterday about Trump.” That text message was sent after the Clinton investigation had been closed. Days later, the F.B.I. started investigating attainable coordination in between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.
The two F.B.I. officials also criticized Mr. Trump as the Russia investigation was continuing. They told internal investigators that their comments were influenced by the troubling evidence they have been seeing about Mr. Trump’s campaign ties to Russia, according to a individual familiar with the internal investigation.
F.B.I. officials who worked straight with Mr. Strzok on the Clinton and Trump investigations stated they by no means detected any bias in his investigative perform. The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, mentioned last week at a congressional hearing that he could not talk about the texts due to the fact of the continuing investigation. But Mr. Wray stated that he would “hold folks accountable soon after there has been an proper investigation, independent and objective, by the inspector common into the handling of the prior matter.”
The F.B.I. declined to comment. Mr. Strzok, a former Army officer, and Ms. Web page, a prosecutor who started her government career correct out of law college, are career officials, not political appointees.
Mr. Strzok had been regarded as 1 of the most knowledgeable and trusted F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators. Mr. Mueller removed him soon after the Justice Department’s inspector basic found the texts. Mr. Strzok helped lead the bureau’s investigation into regardless of whether Mrs. Clinton had mishandled classified info on her private e mail account. Following that investigation was closed in the summer of 2016, he became the best agent on the investigation into hyperlinks between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Mr. Strzok described himself in one text as a “conservative Dem.” In an additional, he said: “I am worried about what Trump is encouraging in our behavior. The items that made me proud about our tolerance for dissent.” Ms. Web page replied that she was worried about a Clinton presidency, reflecting the mood of many in the public who disliked each candidates.
The New York Times revealed the existence of the texts on Dec. two. Right after that write-up, Mr. Trump seized on the messages, sharply criticizing the F.B.I. in a series of Twitter posts. Mr. Trump said the F.B.I. was the “worst in History” and “its reputation is in Tatters.”
“Report: ‘ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON E-mail PROBE,’” Mr. Trump mentioned on Twitter on Dec. three. “Now it all begins to make sense!”
The Justice Department’s selection to provide the texts to Capitol Hill in the middle of an investigation is also probably to attract scrutiny from Democrats. Mr. Trump has criticized the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for not performing enough to protect him on the Russia investigation.
By releasing the texts, the Justice Division has provided Mr. Trump each a shield and a sword in his political battle with Mr. Mueller’s investigators.
Published at Wed, 13 Dec 2017 05:39:59 +0000