As FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe feels the heat over examples of anti-Trump bias by its officials, a Politico report suggests that the Department of Justice is taking a number of steps to stoke the flames of the controversy.
The investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election has undergone increased scrutiny since it was revealed that top investigator Peter Strzok exchanged anti-Trump texts with fellow FBI official Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair.
“I cannot believe Donald Trump is likely to be an actual, serious candidate for president,” Page texted Strzok in March 2016, according to CNN. In another, she describes Trump as a “loathsome human being.”
Strzok, who was also a chief investigator in the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails, texted Page in August: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in [Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s] office that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
Mueller’s probe was also hit by an email sent by Mueller deputy Andrew Weissman in January to then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates over her refusal to implement President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
“I am so proud. And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects,” Weissman said in the email.
“We are now beginning to better understand the magnitude of this insider bias on [FBI Special Counsel Robert] Mueller’s team,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
Politico reports that a number of prosecutors and officials are seeing moves by the Department of Justice that it says runs counter to keeping the probe exempt from “political meddling.”
It reports that officials this week convened a small media briefing for a select group of reporters who were shown the Strzok text messages before even members of the House Judiciary Committee had seen them. However, a spokesman for the DOJ told the outlet that Page and Strzok’s lawyers were notified of the disclosure — which took place after an evaluation by career officials.
Politico also reports that the DOJ acknowledged it was making Mueller add an extra $3.5 million in his first budget report, a move that essentially doubles the probe’s spending. Such a move means a larger price tag, which fits into an attack line from conservatives — namely that Russia investigations that have, for the most part, so far proved fruitless, are costing the taxpayer an exorbitant amount of money.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about the “thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent” on the probe.
Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia – so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met. FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017
Politico also pointed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s statement in June that warned Americans to be “skeptical” about anonymous sources in newspapers. Politico also mentioned the department not coming to Mueller’s defense in October when Republicans claimed his office was the source of a story hinting at the first indictments in the probe.
“I think that it appears to me that DOJ leadership is doing what it can to please their boss, which is ultimately the president of the United States,” Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, told Politico. “They’re doing whatever they can to please him without violating the law.”
Yet Rosenstein has publicly defended Mueller. When he was asked at the House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday whether he had seen “good cause” to fire Mueller, Rosenstein said he had not.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.