Anti-Trump text messages sent by the top FBI investigator on the Russia probe could potentially have “an impact on the viability” of the investigation, FBI Director Christopher Wray acknowledged Monday.
“If you had text messages between agents involved in the case indicating bias against the target of that investigation, can that be a complicating factor when considering whether to bring charges?” Utah Sen. Mike Lee asked Wray during a Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing Monday.
“I think any time that agents conduct themselves in a way that doesn’t have not just objectivity but the appearance of objectivity can have an impact on the viability of the case,” Wray replied.
Lee was inquiring about revelations in a Department of Justice inspector general’s report released Friday that shows former FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok sent a text message on Aug. 8, 2016, suggesting that he planned to derail Donald Trump’s campaign.
“(Trump’s) not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” FBI Attorney Lisa Page wrote to Strzok.
“No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it,” Strzok replied.
Strzok and Page, who were having an affair, sent a slew of other anti-Trump texts while working on the Russia collusion investigation.
President Donald Trump and his allies have cited the Strzok text messages as evidence that the Russia investigation is a “witch hunt.” While Wray appeared critical of Strzok during his testimony Monday, he disputed Trump’s assertion that the Mueller probe is a “witch hunt.”
Both Strzok and Page worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in 2017. Strzok was removed from the investigation in July after the Justice Department’s inspector general discovered his politically-charged texts.
Strzok was the FBI’s top investigator on the Russia investigation when it opened on July 31, 2016. He is also one of the FBI agents who interviewed former national security adviser Michael Flynn about his contacts in December 2016 with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during that interview.
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