President Trump in an interview on Thursday called the senior Federal Bureau of Investigation official who texted his lover about an insurance policy in the case of Trump’s election “treasonous.”
“A man is tweeting to his lover that if [Democrat Hillary Clinton] loses, we’ll essentially do the insurance policy. We’ll go to phase two and we’ll get this guy out of office,” Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
“This is the FBI we’re talking about—that is treason,” he added. “That is a treasonous act. What he tweeted to his lover is a treasonous act.”
The official, Peter Strzok, had major roles in the Clinton email investigation and the FBI’s initial investigation into Russian meddling and potential Trump campaign collusion, and had been assigned to the subsequent special counsel team until the text messages were discovered and he was removed.
The Justice Department inspector general, who is conducting an investigation into whether there was political bias in the FBI’s handling of the Clinton and Russia probes, discovered the text messages Strzok had sent to his lover, an FBI lawyer with whom he was having an extramarital affair.
The two last year during the 2016 presidential campaign season exchanged thousands of text messages that revealed they supported Clinton and detested Trump and had discussed an “insurance policy” in the case of his election.
Strzok texted to Page in August 2016: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration…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.”
“People familiar with” Strzok’s text told the WSJ he meant the FBI had to aggressively investigate allegations of collusion, and that it was not intended to suggest a secret plan to harm his candidacy.
Strzok was the lead agent on the Clinton email investigation and had watered down language in a statement exonerating Clinton that might have had criminal implications for her.
Trump also said the U.S. is taking steps to ensure Russia and other countries do not try to influence future elections.
“We’re going to be very, very careful about Russia and about anybody else, by the way,” Trump told the paper.
He said his administration is working on different solutions and “all sorts of fail-safes.”
He also flatly denied any collusion with Russia, and said since there was no collusion crime, prosecutors were trying to say he obstructed justice for firing FBI Director James Comey.
“Of course there was no obstruction — there was no crime,” he said. “They make up a crime, and the crime doesn’t exist, and then they say obstruction.”
He said, rather, he should get credit for firing Comey, saying “everybody wanted Comey fired.”
“I should be given credit for having great insight,” he said.
Comey’s firing led to the special counsel probe, and for Democrats to argue that Trump obstructed justice by trying to fire Comey and squelch the FBI’s investigation.
A recent book, Fire and Fury, alleged that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the president’s son-in-law and daughter, insisted that he fire Comey and that “cosmopolitans” would welcome it, too.
Trump said his lawyers’ initial instinct was to fight the special counsel, but then after reviewing requested documents, decided to be open.
“They said, ‘You never did anything wrong,'” he said. “To be honest, they probably were surprised, as most lawyers would be.”
Mueller has told Trump’s lawyers that he may want to speak with the president in the near future, but Trump on Thursday would not commit to anything.
He said he hoped that investigations in Congress were nearing an end, and that Republicans would be strong and take charge.
Trump addressed former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s remarks that a meeting his son Donald Trump Jr. took with Russians was “treasonous,” although Bannon later said his comments were directed to his then-campaign manager Paul Manafort.
“What he said about my son is horrible,” Trump said.