04 December, 2017
Robert Mueller removed a top FBI counterintelligence agent from his investigation into Russia's 2016 election meddling this past summer after the Justice Department's inspector general started looking into text messages he and another agent on Mueller's team may have sent expressing negative views about Donald Trump.
According to the Post, Strzok was reportedly having an affair with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer who worked for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, at the time he was also helping lead the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.
When the issue arose, Strzok was taken off the Mueller team in August and he was given a job in the human resources division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - widely viewed as a demotion internally, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr Trump wrote that after years under fired FBI director James Comey, "with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more)", the agency's reputation "is in Tatters - worst in History!" The people briefed on the case said the transfer followed the discovery of text messages in which Mr. Strzok and a colleague reacted to news events, like presidential debates, in ways that could appear anti-Trump.
"Immediately upon learning of the allegations, the special counsel's office removed Peter Strzok from the investigation", the office told the Times. "Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!"
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Strzok's attorney refused to comment on the publication.
Justice Department spokeswoman Sara Isgur Flores said in an email that "we disagree with the chairman's characterization and will continue to work with congressional committees to provide the information they request consistent with our national security responsibilities".
Page was also on Mueller's team but left two weeks before the alleged anti-Trump texts were found. NBC News has not confirmed the contents of the messages and other details of Strzok's removal.
On Saturday, following the reports about Strzok, the inspector general's office said in a statement that as part of its investigation, "the OIG has been reviewing allegations involving communications between certain individuals, and will report its findings regarding those allegations promptly upon completion of the review of them".
However, the President later backed down.