WASHINGTON — As the FBI investigated both candidates running for president in 2016, two FBI employees exchanged thousands of personal texts and messages that included a running political commentary — including newly released messages in which one of them expressed a desire to “stop” the election of Donald Trump.
In a highly anticipated report released Thursday, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog said those messages sullied the FBI’s reputation and “cast a cloud” over its investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails, even if they did not affect the investigation itself. The report, which faulted former FBI Director James Comey for his handling of the probe, also cited anti-Trump communications sent by three other unnamed FBI employees.
The messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page — both of whom worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe — have also given Republicans ample fodder to criticize the Clinton investigation, which eventually cleared her, and to question the department’s ongoing probe into Russian election intervention and whether President Donald Trump’s Republican campaign was involved. That investigation, now led by Mueller, is also looking into whether Trump obstructed justice.