A spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller confirmed Saturday that a top FBI agent was removed from the Russia investigation following allegations he made statements critical of President Donald Trump to a colleague.
“Immediately upon learning of the allegations, the Special Counsel’s Office removed Peter Strzok from the investigation,” Muller spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement. “Lisa Page completed her brief detail and had returned to the FBI weeks before our office was aware of the allegations.”
Carr’s statement comes after the New York Times and Washington Post published reports Strzok sent Page, a fellow agent, text messages critical of Trump. According the Post’s report, Strzok and Page were allegedly having an affair during the time the messages were exchanged.
According to the Times’ report, Strzok was reassigned this summer from Mueller’s team to the F.B.I.’s human resources department.
The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General released a more cryptic statement, saying it is reviewing allegations of communications between individuals linked to the bureau’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
“The OIG has been reviewing allegations involving communications between certain individuals, and will report its findings regarding those allegations promptly upon completion of the review of them,” the office said in a statement.
President Trump has long claimed that Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election and Russian meddling in the process is a “witch hunt,” since Mueller is examining allegations of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Such anti-Trump statements could buttress the belief that the probe is politically motivated.
The Justice Department OIG is looking into how the FBI handled the investigation of Clinton’s server.