After staying silent about the details of a much-awaited report on how the FBI and Justice Department handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation, President Donald Trump on Friday morning said the comment of a top FBI official that “we’ll stop” the Trump bid for President, demonstrated the political bias that he and other Republicans argue has infected the top ranks of the FBI.
“Doesn’t get any lower than that!” the President tweeted early on Friday morning.
Mr. Trump also lashed out at former FBI Director James Comey, who was singled out for “insubordinate” conduct in the internal review by the Justice Department, criticizing him for ignoring department guidelines, and making public comments about the Clinton email probe without the approval of the Attorney General.
“Comey will now officially go down as the worst leader, by far, in the history of the FBI,” the President said. “I did a great service to the people in firing him.”
In the first of his tweets, Mr. Trump joined Congressional Republicans in singling out a text – which had evidently not been turned over to lawmakers earlier – where FBI official Peter Strzok was asked on August 8, 2016 if he thought Trump was going to be President.
“No. No he’s not,” Strzok replied to FBI lawyer Lisa Page. “We’ll stop it.”
That text exchange was 9 days after the FBI had opened a counter-intelligence investigation of the Trump Campaign – questioned by investigators, Strzok denied that he was hinting at some type of internal palace coup.
The Justice Department Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, said that Strzok-Page exchange “created the appearance of bias and thereby raised questions about the objectivity and thoroughness” of the Clinton email investigation.
“This is antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice,” Horowitz wrote in his report.
As shown in the graphic above, Strzok denied there was any effort to undermine Mr. Trump, noting that the FBI had stayed quiet about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and any possible links to people with ties to the Trump Campaign.
Republicans in the House promised more questions for Strzok, as the head of the House Judiciary Committee vowed to subpoena him for testimony.
“This Peter Strzok text about “stopping” Donald Trump was hidden from Congressional investigators,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC). “We never had it. Absolutely unreal.”
Asked directly on Thursday whether Strzok – who had helped lead the Clinton email probe – was going to be disciplined, FBI Director Christopher Wray would only say that disciplinary reviews would take place for certain, unnamed individuals.
“This report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper considerations actually impacting the investigation under review,” said FBI Director Wray.