Why Robert Mueller Threw An Agent Off the Trump-Russia Probe

Mueller Reportedly Removed FBI Agent from Investigation Due to Anti-Trump Texts

A veteran Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence agent was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating Russian election meddling after the discovery of an exchange of anti-Trump text messages, a person familiar with the matter said Saturday.

Given Flynn's proximity to Trump during last year's presidential race and to Trump's inner circle until his ouster in February of this year, the agreement with Flynn and his cooperation in the Mueller probe signaled to many observers that the Justice Department's investigation has entered a new phase - with a possible focus on those closest to the president or perhaps even Donald Trump himself.

The agent has been identified as Peter Strzok, one of the agency's most experienced and trusted counterintelligence investigators, said the New York Times, which first reported the dismissal.

The pair, engaged in a romatic relationship at the time, wrote to one another throughout the campaign season about presidential debates and other issues.

A spokesperson for Mueller's team confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Strzok was no longer assigned part of the investigation.

"It took weeks for this information to land with Mr. Strzok and his team", The Times reported in April.

The Justice Department's inspector general has been looking into Strzok's actions and indicated in a statement Saturday that the review is part of broader investigations announced in January of how the FBI and Justice Department handled matters associated with the 2016 presidential election.

The decision was likely in keeping with the Justice Department's desire to insulate the investigators from claims of political bias or favoritism. The FBI and the Office of the Special Counsel declined to comment.

Trump and Flynn
Two senior FBI officials on Clinton, Trump probes exchanged politically charged texts disparaging Trump

Strzok led the investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified information on her private email account and then investigated possible links between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

During this investigation, Strzok was allegedly involved in an extra-marital affair with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, according to The Washington Post.

The removal of the agent, who also had worked on the investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, occurred this summer.

So far, four people have been charged as a result of Mueller's investigation.

The president has also singled out the F.B.I.'s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, whose wife in 2015 ran for a State Senate seat in Virginia as a Democrat and accepted almost $500,000 in contributions from the political organization of Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend of the Clintons. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department said that "we are aware of the allegation and are taking any and all appropriate steps".

Meanwhile, the inspector general's office said its team is "reviewing allegations involving communications between certain individuals, and will report its findings regarding those allegations promptly upon completion of the review of them".

The Post has repeatedly sought comment from Strzok and Page, but got no response.

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