An embattled FBI agent is testifying before a House committee Thursday over anti-Trump text messages he sent to a colleague with whom he was romantically involved amid the runup to the 2016 presidential election.
Here are things to know about Peter Strzok and his communication with FBI lawyer Lisa Page:
He was removed from Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation
Multiple news outlets reported in December that Robert Mueller had removed Strzok from the special counsel’s team investigating President Trump last summer after the discovery of the anti-Trump texts.
A spokesman for Robert Mueller told the Wall Street Journal that the special counsel removed Strzok “immediately upon learning of the allegations.”
Strzok was reassigned to the FBI’s human resources department.
He was one of the subjects of a scathing inspector general report at the Department of Justice
A report by the Department of Justice’s inspector general released in June is highly critical of Strzok’s actions, in particular one text exchange between the agent and Page in which Page asks him, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” and Strzok responds, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”
The inspector general found the texts were “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.”
However, the report found that there was no evidence that the FBI tried to rig the election for former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, as some Republicans have claimed.
He was one of the FBI agents who helped lead the Clinton e-mail investigation
Strzok was considered one of the agency’s most experienced counterintelligence agents at the time of his reassignment and had been involved with the FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server. Conservatives have latched onto his involvement in the probe — which did not result in any charges — as evidence of biased actions by Strzok, a charge he has denied.
He’s a favorite target of President Trump’s Twitter ire
President Trump has mentioned Strzok in his tweets directly at least 14 times since December, including twice Tuesday. Trump has nicknamed Strzok and Page “FBI lovers” and suggested that the entire Russia investigation is tainted because of the contents of the texts. Strzok argued at a House hearing Thursday that the texts represented personal views that did not affect his work at the FBI.
His texts about Trump were scathing, but they didn’t spare Democrats
The texts between the two FBI agents included unflinching criticism of President Trump. But Strzok called Senator Bernie Sanders “an idiot like Trump” in one exchange with Page, and called former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, who was running for the Democratic nomination at the time, a “freakshow.”
The pair didn’t seem to have much confidence in politicians generally, with Strzok saying he loathed Congress in response to a text from Page.