The senior FBI agent removed from special counselRobert Mueller’s team over the summer repeatedly called President Donald Trump "an idiot," and said the Republican Party "needs to pull their head out of their" rear-ends, according to text messages he sent to an FBI colleague that were reviewed Tuesday by ABC News.
ABC News first reported in August that Peter Strzok, who had been tapped only weeks earlier by Mueller to help lead the probe of alleged Russian meddling in last year's presidential election, had left Mueller's team. Strzok is now working for the FBI’s Human Resources Division.
The Justice Department’s inspector general, looking into an array of FBI actions tied to last year’s election, found the text messages sent between Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, who also worked on Mueller’s team into the summer.
Even without knowing the contents of those messages, Trump and fellow Republicans seized on the news, using it to question the integrity of Mueller’s probe.
But now lawmakers know exactly what Strzok said in those messages, after the Justice Department tonight sent copies of them to House and Senate committees.
"God trump is a loathsome human," Page texted Strzok on March 4, 2016, the day after a Republican primary debate.
Strzok responded, "Yet he may win," adding later, “Omg he’s an idiot.”
In the early morning of Oct. 20, 2016, hours after the final debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton, Strzok texted: "I am riled up. Trump is [an] idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer."
Numerous times over the next several months, Strzok expressed concern that "the absolute bigoted nonsense of Trump,” as he called it, could incite racial tensions inside the United States. "I am worried about what Trump is encouraging in our behavior,” he wrote to Page on Aug. 14, 2016. “The things that made me proud about our tolerance for dissent — what makes us different from Sunnis and Shias losing each other up — is disappearing."
And then on Nov. 21, 2016, after Trump had been elected the next president of the United States, Strzok told Page he was “worried racial tension is going to get really bad."
In all, ABC News reviewed more than 375 messages exchanged between Strzok and Page from August 2015 to December 2016.
Their criticisms were not only aimed at Trump -– they also targeted other Republican candidates for president and former attorney general Eric Holder.
Strzok has spent much of his law enforcement career working counterintelligence cases, and he has been widely praised by federal law enforcement officials who spoke with ABC News.
According to The Washington Post, Strzok and Page were involved in a romantic relationship.
"Immediately upon learning of the allegations, the Special Counsel's Office removed Peter Strzok from the investigation," Mueller spokesman Peter Carr said in a recent statement. "Lisa Page completed her brief [assignment] and had returned to the FBI weeks before our office was aware of the allegations."
During a House hearing last week, FBI director Chris Wray disputed any suggestions that FBI agents bring inappropriate biases to their work.
“The FBI that I see is tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep Americans safe from the next terrorist attack, gang violence, child predators, spies from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran,” Wray said.
He continued, "The FBI that I see is tens of thousands of brave men and women who are working as hard as they can to keep people that they will never know safe from harm … The FBI that I see is people -– decent people – committed to the highest principles of integrity, professionalism and respect."
Wray noted that the Justice Department’s "outside" and "independent" inspector general is currently looking into allegations related to Strzok and others. "And when that independent fact-finding is complete, we will hold our folks accountable if that’s appropriate," he said.
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