Scandal: For 18 months, the FBI has been fixated on determining whether President Trump worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election. But explosive text exchanges between top FBI agents suggest it should be looking in the mirror.
The text messages sent between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, which became public on Wednesday, provide a rare and illuminating window into just how rabidly partisan putatively nonpartisan law enforcement officials can be.In the exchanges, they called Trump an “idiot,” a “loathsome human,” an “enormous do-che,” and said “this man cannot be president.”
When not berating Trump, they were praising Hillary Clinton. In one text, Strzok said: “God Hillary should win 100,000,000-0.” In another, he said that “a lot of people are holding their breath hoping” about Clinton.
When Hillary accepted the party’s nomination in July, Strzok texted “Congrats on a woman nominated for President in a major party! About damn time!” During one of the presidential debates, he texted: “Oh hot damn. HRC is throwing down saying Trump in bed with Russia.” In one of Page’s texts, she said Hillary “just has to win now.”
But Strzok and Page weren’t just a couple of bureaucrats crunching numbers in a windowless office at the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Strzok was a key player in the FBI’s investigation into whether Clinton had broken the law by using a private, unsecured email server to handle highly classified documents. He interviewed several of the people involved, including Clinton herself.
He was also the person who watered down the language in the statement used by Comey to exonerate Clinton, changing it from “gross negligence” to “extremely careless,” which as we noted in this space was critical to Comey’s claim that Clinton didn’t break any laws.
Remember, too, that when Strzok was busy airbrushing Clinton’s email crimes, he would have known that, had the FBI done the right thing and indicted her for putting national security at risk, it would have crushed her campaign, and helped elect the man Strzok clearly felt should never be president.
In other words, Strzok had motive, means and opportunity to sabotage that investigation.
Strzok and Page were also deeply involved in the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russia meddling, which started almost immediately after Comey let Clinton off the hook, and was sparked by a dodgy Clinton-financed “dossier.” In fact, according to CNN, Strzok signed the document making the Russia probe official.
So did these FBI agents act on their fervent anti-Trump beliefs in ways that might have compromised the integrity of both investigations?
The text exchanges suggest they very well may have. Consider:
- Strzok texted Page saying that while he wanted to believe “that there’s no way he gets elected” he was “afraid we can’t take that risk,” then added cryptically that “it’s like an insurance policy.” The text doesn’t make clear what the “it” was, but does suggest the topic was discussed with the deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.
- In August, Page told Strzok he should stay where he is because “you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” meaning Trump. She then sent a link to a David Brooks column in The New York Times which argued that, with Trump, “There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots.” To which Strzok said “of course I’ll try to approach it that way … I can protect our country at many levels.”
- Days after the election, Page texted to say she bought “All the President’s Men,” a book about Nixon’s demise from the Watergate scandal, because “I needed to brush up on Watergate.”
One of the texts also suggests that both knew they should be careful when discussing Clinton. In April 2016, Page texted “you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced.”
At the very least, these messages cast still more doubt on both the Clinton email and the Russia investigations, and lend more credence to claims that both were driven primarily by a desire by federal officials to protect Clinton’s election chances, and hurt Trump in any way possible.