WASHINGTON ― FBI agent Peter Strzok helped draft a letter that, in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign, signaled the re-opening of a probe into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails, CNN reported Wednesday.
Strzok is one of the FBI agents whom some Republicans have accused of scheming to undermine President Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 election. He worked on both the Clinton probe as well as the Russia probe when it was in its early stages, and later joined special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
The letter Strzok helped draft, sent to Congress by then-FBI Director James Comey on Oct. 28 ― days ahead of the 2016 election ― dealt a blow to Clinton, whom Trump repeatedly attacked for using a personal email while serving as secretary of state. Comey penned another letter just before the election saying no new relevant information was found, and stood by the FBI’s prior decision not to recommend charges
The FBI’s actions ahead of the 2016 campaign hurt Clinton, while the bureau stayed quiet about its ongoing probe into ties between Trump associates and Russia. Nevertheless, many Republicans have been working off of the idea that the FBI’s actions somehow hurt Trump’s election, and say the FBI continued to work behind the scenes to undermine his presidency.
Republicans have seized upon text messages between Strzok and an FBI attorney with whom he had a relationship, Lisa Page. Neither were fans of Trump, but they also exchanged texts venting about Democratic politicians and figures as well. One particular text ― a joke about a “secret society” sent hours after Trump’s election ― drew lots of attention from Republicans, who painted it as evidence of a vast conspiracy within the bureau. As it turned out, the joke was made in connection with gag gift calendars Strzok had bought for the team working on the Russia probe that featured “beefcake” photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
CNN reported that Strzok did have reservations about Comey making the announcement public, and text messages showed they were troubled by the fallout from the letter.
“Christ. It’s there led on freaking MARKETPLACE,” Page texted, an apparent reference to the public radio show. “Our statement affected the stock market. 😡”
Republican theories about the actions of the two FBI employees haven’t really panned out, as HuffPost has reported. Republicans suggested that they were leaking anti-Trump information to the media, when in reality, Page cooperated with a story in which she defended the bureau’s handling of the Clinton probe. Another set of texts indicated they rejected an outsider’s suggestion that the FBI should have gone after agents leaking information about the Clinton investigation by monitoring an ex-FBI official’s phone.
Trump, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, even made an unfounded accusation of treason against Strzok.
Clarification: A previous version of this story said “Marketplace” is an NPR show. It airs on NPR and other public radio stations, but is produced by American Public Media.