A former FBI official who played a critical role in
special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation also
helped relaunch the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s
private email use as secretary of state, according to
Peter Strzok, who was removed from Mueller’s team last
summer for making disparaging remarks about President Donald
Trump, co-wrote the first draft of the letter Comey disclosed
to the public just 11 days before the 2016
Republicans have frequently criticized Strzok for
exhibiting anti-Trump bias.
Peter Strzok, the counterintelligence veteran who has been at the
center of Republicans’ claims of bias at the FBI against
President Donald Trump, also played a key role in the FBI’s
decision to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email
use as secretary of state, just 11 days before the 2016 election,
CNN reported Wednesday.
CNN said Strzok co-wrote the first draft of the letter that
former FBI Director James Comey disclosed to the public in
October 2016, announcing that the FBI had recovered thousands of
Clinton’s emails and, as a result, would relaunch the probe into
whether the then-Democratic presidential nominee should be
Democrats, including Clinton, criticized Comey at the time
for disclosing the letter
so close to the
election, arguing that it helped tilt the vote in Trump’s
Clinton had previously been cleared of any criminal
wrongdoing. In July 2016, Comey announced that the FBI had
concluded its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private
email server, adding that while investigators found no evidence
of legal violations, they did find evidence that Clinton was
“extremely careless” in her handling of classified
Coincidentally, Strzok played a key role in the crafting of that
statement as well. The original draft of the July 2016 memo said
that Clinton “was grossly negligent with respect to the handling
of classified information.” But Strzok later changed the memo’s
language to say Clinton’s actions were “extremely careless”
instead of grossly negligent.
Strzok played a critical role in the Russia probe
During the same month that the FBI ended its initial
investigation into Clinton’s email use, the agency launched a
separate investigation into Russia’s election interference and
possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Strzok was
the FBI agent who signed off on that investigation.
But Strzok’s role in the Russia investigation would end
about a year later, in August 2017, when the special counsel
Robert Mueller removed him from the
investigative team following revelations that Strzok made
disparaging remarks about Trump in text messages exchanged with
FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
When the news of Strzok’s firing surfaced last month, some
Republicans called for an investigation into what they
characterized as anti-Trump bias at the FBI and the Department of
Justice. Those calls intensified when Stephen Boyd, the assistant
attorney general for legislative affairs at the DOJ, said the
FBI’s system was not able to preserve thousands of text messages
exchanged between Strzok and Page because of a technical glitch
with Samsung phones.
“Where are the 50,000 important text messages between FBI
lovers Lisa Page and Peter Strzok? Blaming Samsung!”
on January 23.
A day later, the DOJ’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz
announced that his office had
recovered those texts.