A new inspector general’s report repeatedly criticized FBI agent Peter Strzok for his biased handling of the Hillary Clinton email and Russia collusion investigations, and for using personal tech devices to handle FBI business.
Strzok was supervising the FBI’s Clinton investigation and deeply involved in its Russia investigation. He was later hired to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team until anti-Trump and pro-Clinton text messages between him and FBI lawyer Lisa Page came to light, raising questions about his ability to handle the investigations with integrity. Strzok and Page were having an affair.
The report stated the text messages “included statements of hostility toward then candidate Trump and statements of support for candidate Clinton.” Strzok and Page called Trump a “f-cking idiot,” a “d-uche,” and a “disaster.” It also states that the two often mixed their political opinions with their talk about the investigation, showing their opinions might have affected the investigation.
The inspector general commented that Strzok’s actions reflected poorly on the FBI and harmed public trust in its investigations of Russia and Clinton. It also stated, however, that investigators have so far found no evidence that Strzok’s bias affected either investigation: “our review did not find documentary or testimonial evidence directly connecting the political views these employees expressed in their text messages and instant messages to the specific investigative decisions we reviewed in Chapter Five…”
Repeatedly, the report laments how the FBI lost credibility as an independent agency as a result of Strzok’s texts. His conduct “cast a cloud over” the FBI’s investigations.
We found that the conduct of these five FBI employees brought discredit to themselves, sowed doubt about the FBI’s handling of the Midyear investigation, and impacted the reputation of the FBI.
Moreover, the damage caused by their actions extends far beyond the scope of the Midyear investigation and goes to the heart of the FBI’s reputation for neutral factfinding and political independence.
We were deeply troubled by text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations.
The report slams Strzok and Page for their misuse of their positions: “At a minimum, we found that the employees’ use of FBI systems and devices to send the identified messages demonstrated extremely poor judgment and a gross lack of professionalism.”
The DOJ presented four categories of the Strzok-Page text messages in their report. The first demonstrates where the two showed clear evidence of bias. The second displays bias that had the appearance of affecting the Clinton investigation. The third displays bias that had the appearance of affecting the Russia investigation. The fourth category listed text messages that captured the public’s attention but did not affect the investigations.
According to an interview with Page, the IG asked Page if these texts were evidence that Strzok was biased against Trump in the Russia investigation from the start. Page replied that some could interpret the texts in that manner, but “[t]hat’s just not how I read it.”
The report also dropped the bombshell that Strzok, Page, and former FBI director James Comey used personal email accounts for FBI business. This is the same charge against Clinton prompting her investigations. The report states that Strzok forwarded the warrant for Anthony Weiner’s laptop, where missing Clinton emails were found, to his personal email account:
Most troubling, on October 29, 2016, Strzok forwarded from his FBI account to his personal email account an email about the proposed search warrant the Midyear team was seeking on the Weiner laptop. This email included a draft of the search warrant affidavit, which contained information from the Weiner investigation that appears to have been under seal at the time…
Strzok also created a document that he titled “Weiner timeline” and sent it to Page on November 3, 2017. The FBI could use the timeline to explain their actions during the election and avoid conspiracy theories.
Strzok told the FBI that he normally used his government accounts and devices to handle work-related information. However, at the time, the bureau’s old iPhones or Samsung phones were too “cumbersome” to send long emails, he said. He also blamed the devices’ autocorrect feature. Page cited the same reasons.
Read the whole document here.