Judiciary Chairman Seeks Documents Relating to Reported Bias of Key Agent Handling Trump, Clinton Investigations
Dec 06, 2017
WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is asking the FBI to prioritize producing documents relating to the activities of high-ranking FBI Agent Peter Strzok, following reports that Strzok engaged in communications demonstrating political bias while handling matters in two sensitive, high-profile investigations. To date, the FBI has failed to comply with previous, broader Committee requests that called for records relating to the communications of Stzrok and others regarding Director Comey’s controversial public statement during last year’s Presidential election.
Strzok was the deputy assistant director for the FBI’s counterintelligence division and working on the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server to conduct official business when he reportedly shared text messages disparaging now-President Trump and supporting Hillary Clinton. According to news reports and documents provided to the Committee, Strzok appears to have been responsible for removing language suggesting legal jeopardy for Clinton in former FBI director James Comey’s conclusion of that investigation. Strzok was also among the two agents who would eventually interview former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Strzok’s behavior and involvement in these two politically-sensitive cases raises new concerns of inappropriate political influence in the work of the FBI.
In October, Grassley wrote to Strzok requesting voluntary cooperation and a private transcribed interview with the Committee. The Committee has received no letter in reply.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Grassley requested the text messages at issue, any further communications containing favorable or unfavorable statements about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and any communications involving Strzok regarding decisions about closing the Clinton investigation or opening the investigation into potential collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government.
Full text of Grassley’s letter follows.
December 5, 2017
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable Christopher Wray
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535
Dear Director Wray:
Over the summer, media outlets reported that Peter Strzok was removed from his position in the FBI’s counterintelligence division and from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and had been reassigned to work in the FBI’s human resources department. According to recent media reports, Mr. Mueller removed Mr. Strzok from the team after discovering that he and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, his alleged mistress, “had exchanged politically charged texts disparaging President Trump and supporting Hillary Clinton.” It appears the Special Counsel may have learned this information from the Office of Inspector General’s ongoing review of the handling of controversial pre-election activities of the Justice Department and FBI related to the campaign.
Reportedly, Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page exchanged these text messages while working on the Clinton investigation. Mr. Strzok has been described as “a key player in the investigation into [Hillary] Clinton’s use of a private email server to do government work as secretary of state.” Ms. Page reportedly “was a regular participant when Comey would hold ‘skinny group’ meetings on the case—a small collection of advisers who gathered to address sensitive cases.” Additionally, Mr. Strzok reportedly was one of two FBI agents who interviewed former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The communications between members of the Clinton email investigation team raise questions about the integrity of that investigation, and about the objectivity of Mr. Strzok’s work for the Special Counsel and in the FBI’s investigation of Mr. Flynn.
The Committee has previously written to Mr. Strzok requesting an interview to discuss his knowledge of improper political influence or bias in Justice Department or FBI activities during either the previous or current administration, the removal of James Comey from his position as Director of the FBI, the DOJ’s and FBI’s activities related to Hillary Clinton, the DOJ’s and FBI’s activities related to Donald J. Trump and his associates, and the DOJ’s and FBI’s activities related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. To date, the Committee has received no letter in reply to that request. In advance of Mr. Strzok’s interview, please provide the following communications, in the form of text messages or otherwise, to the Committee no later than December 11, 2017:
- All communications sent to, received by, or copying Mr. Strzok related to then-Director Comey’s draft or final statement closing the Clinton investigation, including all records related to the change in the portion of the draft language describing Secretary Clinton’s and her associates’ conduct regarding classified information from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless”;
- All communications sent to, received by, or copying Mr. Strzok regarding the decision to close the Clinton investigation without recommending any charges;
- All communications sent to, received by, or copying Mr. Strzok related to opening the investigation into potential collusion by the Trump campaign with the Russian government, including any FBI electronic communication (EC) authored or authorized by Mr. Strzok and all records forming the basis for that EC;
- All communications sent to, received by, or copying Mr. Strzok related to the FBI’s interactions with Christopher Steele relating to the investigation into potential collusion by the Trump campaign with the Russian government; including any communications regarding potential or realized financial arrangements with Mr. Steele;
- All communications sent to, received by, or copying Mr. Strzok related to any instance of the FBI relying on, or referring to, information in Mr. Steele’s memoranda in the course of seeking any FISA warrants, other search warrants, or any other judicial process;
- All FD-302s of FBI interviews of Lt. Gen. Flynn at which Mr. Strzok was present, as well as all related 1A documents (including any contemporaneous handwritten notes);
- All communications sent to, received by, or copying Mr. Strzok containing unfavorable statements about Donald Trump or favorable statements about Hillary Clinton, including text messages.
If you have questions, please contact Patrick Davis of my committee staff at (202) 224-5225. Thank you for your cooperation.
Charles E. Grassley
Committee on the Judiciary
cc: The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz
U.S. Department of Justice
The Honorable Rod J. Rosenstein
Deputy Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
 Karoun Demirjian & Devlin Barrett, Top FBI Official Assigned to Mueller’s Russia Probe Said To Have Been Removed After Sending Anti-Trump Texts, The Washington Post (Dec. 2, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/two-senior-fbi-officials-on-clinton-trump-probes-exchanged-politically-charged-texts-disparaging-trump/2017/12/02/9846421c-d707-11e7-a986-d0a9770d9a3e_story.html?utm_term=.5628b4762af1.
 Dmirjian & Barrett, Top FBI Official Assigned to Mueller’s Russia Probe Said To Have Been Removed After Sending Anti-Trump Texts.
 Nicole Darrah, FBI Agent Fired From Russia Probe Oversaw Flynn Interviews, Softened Comey Language on Clinton Email Actions, Fox News (Dec. 4, 2017), http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/04/fbi-agent-fired-from-russia-probe-oversaw-flynn-interviews-changed-comey-memos-on-clinton-charges.html
 Laura Jarrett & Evan Perez, FBI Agent Dismissed from Mueller Probe Changed Comey’s Description of Clinton to ‘Extremely Careless’, CNN (Dec. 4, 2017, 4:57 PM), http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/04/politics/peter-strzok-james-comey/index.html.