A number of President Donald Trump’s critics in Congress, who have defended the FBI's Trump-Russia investigation, are claiming that the Justice Department inspector general's report did not find any bias in the FBI’s conduct of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices at the Department of State. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) told MSNBC on Thursday, "There was no bias in the FBI," while Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) told Fox News, "No bias at the FBI." "No evidence ... [that the FBI] acted on the basis of political bias," said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Democrats pointed to two remarks DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz made in the report. First, Horowitz wrote, "We found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, we concluded that they were based on the prosecutors' assessment of the facts, the law, and past department practice." However, the preceding statement was limited to the specific decision by erstwhile FBI Director James Comey that Clinton’s conduct did not merit prosecution, but did not address the Trump-Russia situation. Regarding a decision that FBI Agent Peter Strzok made in the Trump-Russia investigation, Horowitz wrote, "We concluded that we did not have confidence that this decision by Strzok was free from bias."

Democrats pointed to another statement by Horowitz: "Our review did not find documentary or testimonial evidence directly connecting the political views these employees expressed in their text messages and instant messages to the specific investigative decisions we reviewed ..."

While the report by the IG was short on conclusions regarding alleged political bias among FBI personnel involved in the Clinton email investigation, it was long on evidence. Members of Congress, including House Intelligence committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) for more documents and clarifications from DOJ.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz found bias when he reviewed the communications between FBI officials involved in the probes into Clinton and Trump. While the new report, which was released on Thursday, was focused on the email investigation, it also touches on the beginning of the Trump investigation because a significant number of FBI officials were involved in both probes. What Horowitz found was that many of these officials made no bones about their disgust for Trump.

"Our task was made significantly more difficult because of text and instant messages exchanged on FBI devices and systems by five FBI employees involved in the [Clinton email] investigation," Horowitz wrote in the report’s executive summary. "These messages reflected political opinions in support of former Secretary Clinton and against her then political opponent Donald Trump. Some of these text messages and instant messages mixed political commentary with discussions about the [Clinton email] investigation, and raised concerns that political bias may have impacted investigative decisions."

We'll stop Trump

The conduct of the five FBI employees, in question, including FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, said the report, "brought discredit to themselves," and also "sowed doubt" about the agency's conduct of the Clinton investigation and beyond. The three other agents were identified merely as Agent 1, Agent 5, and FBI Attorney 2.

The most obviously biased statement found in the report was written by Strzok, with whom Page was conducted a romantic affair. When Page texted, "Trump's] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Strzok responded, "No. No he's not. We'll stop it." That exchange happened on Aug. 8, 2016 and after the July 31, 2016, official start of the FBI Trump-Russia probe. Strzok was at the very beginning of the Trump-Russia investigation, remaining with it after the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. He was removed from the investigation in late July 2016 after Horowitz brought the texts to Mueller's attention. Strzok was also a key member of the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

When Horowitz asked Strzok about the "We'll stop it" message, Strzok said the he could not "specifically recall" sending it. According to Horowitz, Strzok explained "that he believed that it was intended to reassure Page that Trump would not be elected, not to suggest that he would do something to impact the investigation."

Trump is loathsome

The many texts between Strzok and Page were a catalog of anti-Trump expressions. For example, on March 3, 2016, Page texted "God trump is a loathsome human.” She texted on July 18, 2016, text that Trump "is an enormous douche." Page also issued texts that touched upon the Clinton email investigation, such as her July 26, 2016, text, while watching the Democratic National Convention. She wrote, "Yeah, it is pretty cool. [Clinton] just has to win now. I'm not going to lie, I got a flash of nervousness yesterday about trump." In addition, there were texts concerning the Trump-Russia investigation. For example, in an exchange on Aug. 6, 2016, Page sent Strzok an article about Pakistani-American Khzir Khan, who condemned Trump publicly during the DNC convention, "And Trump should go f himself." Strzok responded, "And F Trump," to which Page rejoined, "Maybe you're meant to stay where you are because you're meant to protect the country from that menace."

The contempt for Trump among FBI officials extended to the candidate’s supporters. An FBI agent on the Hillary investigation texted, “Trump's supporters are all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS.” POS may be an acronym for “Pieces of S---.” In a 2016 from Strzok, he wrote about what he smelled at a Walmart store in rural Virginia: “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support....” 

The report revealed bias on the part of Agent 1, Agent 5, and FBI Attorney 2. Agent 1 and Agent 5 [who eventually married] wrote on Aug. 29, 2016, about their work at the FBI. Agent 1 wrote, "I find anyone who enjoys [this job] an absolute fucking idiot. If you don’t think so, ask them one more question. Who are you voting for? I guarantee you it will be Donald Drumpf." It was progressive British late-night TV host John Oliver who had dubbed Trump with the “Drumpf” epithet. Agent 5 replied, "I forgot about drumpf," responded Agent 5. Then on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2016, Agent 1 and Agent 5 had the following exchange: "You think HRC is gonna win right? You think we should get nails and some boards in case she doesn’t" asked Agent 1, to which Agent 5 replied,  "She better win...otherwise I'm gonna be walking around with both of my guns." Agent 5 later added, "Screw you Trump." Agent 1 was one of two agents who interviewed Hillary Clinton on July 2, 2016 about her email practices, while. Agent 5 was also on the Clinton investigation. Neither, according to Horowitz, was assigned to the Trump-Russia investigation.

As for FBI Attorney 2, he had not been known before the release of Horowitz’s report. FBI Attorney 2 was removed from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, as were Strzok and Page. "FBI Attorney 2 left the special counsel's investigation and returned to the FBI in late February 2018, shortly after the IG provided the special counsel with some of the instant messages discussed in this section," the report says.

I never liked the republic

When James Comey, the then-FBI Director, announced on Oct. 28, 2016, announced the reopening of the Clinton investigation, FBI Attorney 2 messaged four other FBI employees: "I mean, I never really liked the Republic anyway" and similar messages. On the day after Trump won the presidency, FBI Attorney 2 messaged another FBI employee, saying, "I am numb."

"I am so stressed about what I could have done differently," FBI Attorney 2 wrote. Later, FBI Attorney 2 told IG Horowitz that he was merely referring to the reopening of the Clinton investigation, which the Clinton has blamed for its loss.  FBI Attorney 2 fretted that the agency has cost Clinton the presidency. "We broke the momentum," FBI Attorney 2 wrote, in an apparent reference to what the Clinton camp believed was a sure path to electoral victory. "I'm just devastated. I can't wait until I can leave today and just shut off the world for the next four days."

Opposition to deporting illegal aliens

"I just can't imagine the systematic disassembly of the progress we made over the last 8 years," FBI Attorney 2 wrote, apparently revealing sympathy for the Obama administration. "ACA [the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare] is gone. Who knows if the rhetoric about deporting people, walls, and crap is true. I honestly feel like there is going to be a lot more gun issues, too, the crazies won finally. This is the tea party on steroids. And the GOP is going to be lost, they have to deal with an incumbent in 4 years. We have to fight this again. Also Pence is stupid."

"And it's just hard not to feel like the FBI caused some of this. It was razor thin in some states." Asked about the various comments, FBI Attorney 2 told FBI investigators that he and the others were "just discussing our personal feelings" and "tend to exaggerate." 

On Nov. 22, 2016, FBI Attorney 2 had an exchange with another FBI lawyer about "the amount of money the subject of an FBI investigation had been paid while working on the Trump campaign," according to Horowitz. The other attorney asked, "Is it making you rethink your commitment to the Trump administration?" "Hell no," FBI Attorney 2 responded. "Viva le resistance." When Horowitz asked FBI Attorney 2 about the "viva le resistance" comment, FBI Attorney replied, “It’s just my political view in terms of, of my preference," and "It wasn't something along the lines of, you know, we're taking certain actions in order to, you know, combat that or, or do anything like that." FBI Attorney 2 was also part of the Trump-Russia investigation early on until late February 2018, becoming the third FBI official -- after Strzok and Page -- removed from the Mueller investigation because of  anti-Trump bias.

Horowitz wrote in the report that the expressions of bias "deeply troubled" him, especially Strzok's "We'll stop it" comment. That remark, Horowitz wrote, was "not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate's electoral prospects."



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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