Earlier this month, the news that a counterintelligence agent was removed from the Robert Mueller investigation team because of anti-Trump text messages set of a fiery tweetstorm by Trump, who said the FBI’s “reputation is in Tatters - worst in History!”
Those texts, which former special counsel investigator Peter Strzok sent to Lisa Page, a senior FBI lawyer also working on the Mueller investigation, were released Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general and the man who appointed Mueller as special counsel, is facing a renewed Republican attack on the impartiality of the special investigation as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee.
In one of the texts released Tuesday night, according to the New York Times, they wrote that Hillary Clinton “just has to win” and the prospect of a Trump victory was “terrifying.”
CBS News reports that Strzok called Trump “awful,” a “douche,” and an “idiot.” He and Page were apparently appalled by some of Trump’s comments, including his allusion to the size of his penis during a debate. The two also disparaged Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz, and Paul Ryan, and they criticized Clinton’s team, the Obama administration, and other Democrats, according to the Times. These texts were dated between August 2015 and December 2016, during the campaign. At the time, Strzok helped lead the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server; afterwards, he became the top agent on the investigation looking into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, according to the Times. Many conservative critics have seized on the texts as evidence of the investigation’s bias.
Strzok, whom Trump later called “Tainted (no, very dishonest?),” was dismissed from the team in August when Mueller learned of the messages. Page, who worked at the special counsel’s office, completed her role there before the texts came to light.
According to the Times, The Justice Department’s inspector general is investigating the texts as part of its inquiry into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe and its investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties. FBI officials are allowed to express opinions on political subjects.
Rosenstein argued before the House Judiciary Committee that he has not seen any impropriety from the Mueller team.
Watch Rosenstein’s testimony live:
One more thing
You depend on Slate for sharp, distinctive coverage of the latest developments in politics and culture. Now we need to ask for your support.
Our work is more urgent than ever and is reaching more readers—but online advertising revenues don’t fully cover our costs, and we don’t have print subscribers to help keep us afloat. So we need your help. If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.