President Donald Trump went on a an anti-FBI tweetstorm Sunday morning seizing on news that a veteran counterintelligence agent was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team due to anti-Trump text messages. The president said that “after years” of fired FBI director James Comey’s leadership, the FBI’s “reputation is in Tatters – worst in History!” But the commander in chief told supporters not to worry, because “we will bring it back to greatness.”
The president then went on to call the agent who was removed from Mueller’s team a “Tainted (no, very dishonest?)” FBI agent. He was referring to Peter Strzok, who sent text messages to another agent that were critical of Trump. Strzok was immediately removed from Mueller’s team following the revelation, the New York Times and Washington Post first reported on Saturday. Strzok wasn’t just any agent; he “is considered one of the most experienced and trusted F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators” and “helped lead the investigation into whether Hillary Clinton had mishandled classified information on her private email account,” reports the New York Times.
As he commented on Strzok, Trump also retweeted two posts by Paul Sperry, a media fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, who called on the current FBI chief Christopher Wray to “clean house” at the bureau. Sperry also seized on the Strzok news to talk about the “politicization” of the FBI.
In case his message wasn’t clear, Trump wrote yet another tweet relating to Strzok. “Report: ‘ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON EMAIL PROBE’ Now it all starts to make sense!” Trump wrote.
Trump’s reaction is hardly surprising and was actually expected ever since the news broke. “Among federal law enforcement officials, there is great concern that exposure of the texts they exchanged may be used by the president and his defenders to attack the credibility of the Mueller probe and the FBI more broadly,” the Washington Post wrote Saturday.
His anti–FBI tweets were not his first of the day. It seems Trump had a bit of trouble sleeping Saturday night and had the news on his mind when he took to Twitter early in the morning to deny that he asked former FBI chief James Comey to stop investigating his fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn. “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn,” Trump said in a pre-dawn message on Twitter. “Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!”
Trump’s tweet came hours after his first message on the social media platform regarding Flynn, claiming he “had to fire” his national security adviser, because “he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” That raised lots of eyebrows, because it suggested Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he allegedly asked then–FBI chief James Comey to go easy on the former national security adviser.
“The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, ‘He is a good guy and has been through a lot,’ ” Comey said in written testimony to Congress in June. “He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’ ”
Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, then came forward to say he was the one who drafted the tweet in a “sloppy” manner.