Fresh from securing a plea deal from former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn in the ongoing Russia probe, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly sacked a top FBI agent from his team after that agent exposed his political bias by sending out anti-Trump texts.
Agent Peter Strzok was abruptly shifted from Mueller’s team to the FBI human resources department over the summer after his superiors caught wind of text messages he shared with a colleague celebrating news items that were unflattering to President Trump, the New York Times revealed in a report that cited anonymous sources.
Strzok was part of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and held a top position in the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
FBI agents are allowed to express opinions “as an individual privately and publicly on political subjects and candidates,” so it is likely that Mueller fired him in order to stave off any criticism of his probe as politically motivated.
The messages, which were uncovered by the Department of Justice inspector general, were sent to Lisa Page, who was an FBI lawyer before joining the special counsel team. The pair were reportedly involved in a romantic relationship. Page departed the special counsel’s office to return to the FBI in July.
Strzok’s firing becomes the latest piece of ammunition that Trump supporters can use to paint Mueller’s investigation as inherently biased. Already, members of the special counsel team have found themselves under scrutiny for making Democratic campaign contributions, while Mueller himself was seen as compromised due to his connection to the Uranium One deal.
DOJ inspector general Michael E. Horowitz, who is also overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails, will lead in inquiry into Strzok’s text messages and whether they revealed any partiality in the Russia probe.