‘Extraordinary’ Strzok removal shows FBI agents in crosshairs from IG probe
June 21, 2018 By Brooke Singman
Peter Strzok’s abrupt removal from his FBI office this week signaled that the Justice Department inspector general’s work already is leading to consequences for bureau officials ensnared in various probes — with potentially more repercussions to come.
Strzok, who worked on both the Clinton email and Russia probes, was escorted from the FBI on Tuesday, following a referral for further investigation from DOJ IG Michael Horowitz. The watchdog, as part of his Clinton case review, found that Strzok and four other FBI employees sent “hostile” anti-Trump messages on bureau devices.
The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility is expected to further investigate the findings against the five FBI employees.
“A referral certainly is very serious and they will investigate the accusations if it’s serious enough,” retired FBI special agent and former national spokesman John Iannarelli told Fox News Thursday. “The accusations are a violation of FBI rules.”
Iannarelli explained that FBI employees are not allowed to use bureau devices for matters other than bureau business.
“As I like to say, every FBI agent has a political opinion, we’re just not allowed to express them,” Iannarelli said. “You’re supposed to keep to yourselves and you certainly can’t let it impact your work. What we see here are individuals who disregarded this.”
FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI Counsel Lisa Page exchanged politically-charged text messages when discussing the Clinton email probe.
Last week’s inspector general report largely dealt with the Justice Department and FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server but uncovered numerous messages that “appeared to mix political opinion with discussions about the MYE investigation.”
MYE, or “Midyear Exam,” was the code used in the FBI to refer to the Clinton probe.
The report noted that it was specifically concerned about text messages exchanged between FBI officials Strzok and Lisa Page that “potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations.”
Horowitz ultimately found no evidence that the bias among the several FBI agents impacted prosecutorial decisions in the Clinton email probe.
Strzok and Page, who were romantically involved, both served for a short period of time on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team. Strzok was reassigned following the revelations of his anti-Trump texts. Page resigned last month.
But while many of those texts were made public in late 2017, the IG report revealed a new one in which Strzok vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president — and made clear that as many as five total FBI employees exchanged politically charged messages.
‘To be escorted out of the building before the OPR investigation is completed and a decision is rendered is fairly extraordinary.’
“The text messages and instant messages sent by these employees included statements of hostility toward then candidate Trump and statements of support for candidate Clinton,” the report said.
The report also revealed instant messages between unnamed agents, which House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows suggested at a public hearing could be FBI agents Kevin Clinesmith and Sally Moyer—though neither Horowitz nor the FBI would comment on the accuracy of that speculation.
A spokesman for Meadows did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on why Meadows cited those names.
If Strzok and others are pursued in connection with this report, Iannarelli said the FBI has an “established series of penalties,” with potential punishment for agents ranging from “censure, policing your file, to cutting off from work without pay until termination.”
“One violation is ‘lack of candor,’ during an investigation interview. That is grounds for termination and there is no exception to that,” Iannarelli said.
Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe was fired in March by Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his lack of candor when interviewed regarding an unauthorized leak of a self-serving story to the media. McCabe allegedly lied to FBI investigators and his boss, former FBI Director James Comey, though McCabe has pushed back on those findings.
An FBI spokesperson told Fox News they could not comment on the next steps in the bureau’s investigation into the implicated agents.
Iannarelli told Fox News that Strzok’s forcible exit from the bureau was a “rare occurrence,” and that he has seen a number of FBI employees who were eventually terminated, but continued performing functions until OPR decisions were made.
“To be escorted out of the building before the OPR investigation is completed and a decision is rendered is fairly extraordinary,” Iannarelli said.
One former senior Justice Department official speculated on Thursday that Strzok might also be implicated in a separate inspector general’s review on the start of the Russia investigation.
“My take is that it is possible that escorting him out meant that the inspector general’s Russia investigation is going to be brutal for him,” the former official told Fox News. “If you’re the subject or mentioned by name in an OIG report, they typically show you the parts of the report that relate to you.”
The official added: “At the end of the day, one of the drafts of the next inspector general report is making its way around and the findings are alarming to the FBI.”
Horowitz on Tuesday confirmed that he is investigating whether Strzok’s anti-Trump bias factored into the launch of the FBI’s Russia investigation.
During testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Horowitz acknowledged that Strzok’s text messages “clearly shows a biased state of mind.”
IG CONFIRMS HE IS REVIEWING WHETHER STRZOK’S ANTI-TRUMP BIAS IMPACTED LAUNCH OF RUSSIA PROBE
It was revealed earlier this year that Horowitz’s office was investigating allegations of government surveillance abuse tied to the start of the Russia probe. But Horowitz’s testimony this week, meant to answer questions about the conclusion of the Clinton case review, revealed some of the specifics involved in the ongoing Russia case review, including the Strzok texts.
“I can’t imagine FBI agents even suggesting that they would use their powers to investigate any candidate for office,” Horowitz said Tuesday. “I thought this was completely antithetical to the core values of the department and extremely serious.”
The former official also speculated the Strzok’s escort out of the building could be related to a loss of security clearance, or even the findings of personal texts or emails from Strzok and Page that the inspector general was not able to obtain.
But regardless of the basis for Strzok’s exit, Iannarelli told Fox News that FBI rank-and-file are “shaking their heads.”
“This is such an aberration of what the FBI stands for,” Iannarelli told Fox News. “You have a couple of people who have done these things and draw the spotlight and attention away from all of the good agents and good work being done at the FBI.”
Strzok’s attorney did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment but in a statement issued in response to his removal from the office earlier this week said Strzok wants to continue to serve.
“Pete has steadfastly played by the rules and respected the process, and yet he continues to be the target of unfounded personal attacks, political games and inappropriate information leaks,” attorney Aitan Goelman said. “All of this seriously calls into question the impartiality of the disciplinary process, which now appears tainted by political influence. Instead of publicly calling for a long-serving FBI agent to be summarily fired, politicians should allow the disciplinary process to play out free from political pressure.
“Despite being put through a highly questionable process, Pete has complied with every FBI procedure, including being escorted from the building as part of the ongoing internal proceedings.”
The report, separately, found instances of FBI employees who “improperly received benefits from reporters, including tickets to sporting events, golfing outings, drinks and meals, and admittance to nonpublic social events.”
Any consequences from those perks, however, might come later. Because the gifts were outside the scope of this report, Horowitz said the watchdog “will separately report on those investigations as they are concluded.”
Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) revealed Tuesday during the House Judiciary and Oversight committee’s hearing regarding the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation that the FBI may have altered or manipulated the witness interviews compiled by investigators during both the Clinton and Russia investigations. The information, if proven true, could have significant implications in the case brought against against former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, where conflicting testimony and statements made by Former FBI Director James Comey, would call into question whether the agents who interviewed Flynn believed he was either lying or telling the truth.
Meadows was questioning Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, saying “there is growing evidence that 302s [FBI interview reports] were edited and changed. Those 302s, it is suggested that they were changed to either prosecute or not prosecute individuals. And that is very troubling.”
“It is suggested that [the 302s] they were changed to either prosecute or not prosecute individuals. And that is very troubling…”
Behind closed doors, in March 2017 Comey told Congress that the agents who interviewed Flynn on Jan. 24, 2017 did not believe that Flynn was lying. Comey later appeared to walk back his statement during an interview with Brett Baier on Fox News, suggesting that he didn’t recall making those statements to Congress, as previously reported. However, an unreacted section of the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia report specifically stated, “Director Comey testified to the committee that ‘the agents…discerned no physical indications of deception. They didn’t see any change in posture, in tone, in inflection, in eye contact. They saw nothing that indicated to them that he knew he was lying to them.”
If Flynn’s 302s were altered, or if the information in them was manipulated, that would be significant. For some time, several SaraACarter.com sources have made that suggestion. They also stated that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was irate and wanted to find some way to prove Flynn lied to them during the interview. Ironically, McCabe was fired this year days before his official retirement and is now facing possible charges for lying under oath based on evidence discovered by Horowitz.
Meadows did not say which interviews may have been tampered with or which agents may have been involved.
Meadows also suggested that the FBI was not forthright with Horowitz, whose office released a scathing 568-page report on the bureau’s handling of the Clinton matter last week. He said the FBI’s reasons for redacting the names of two anonymous FBI employees identified in the report were based on the false premise that they were working in the counterintelligence division of the bureau.
“They don’t work in counterintelligence,” Meadows told Horowitz. “If that’s the reason the FBI is giving, they’re giving you false information, because they work for the [FBI] general counsel.”
Meadows named FBI attorneys, Kevin Clinesmith and Sally Moyer during the hearing and asked Horowitz if he could confirm that they were two of the unnamed agents in the report. Horowitz declined to confirm or deny the names out of concern and at the request of the bureau.
Want to know more about 302s and the FBI’s interviewing process? Tomorrow, I speak exclusively with a former Senior FBI official who will break it all down.
FBI: Hundreds of Bureau Agents Took Bribes from CNN, NY Times, NBC News and More; Wray Looks the Other Way to Protect Media Partners
Access to the FBI is for sale.
Concert tickets. Expensive private dinners. NFL tickets. Parties on booze cruises. Discounts on travel.
FBI insiders said more than 60 agents in D.C. alone have been nailed for taking gifts from the news media. Inspector General Michael Horowitz said earlier this week about 50 FBI agents took 300 free gifts from news media.
However, Horowitz failed to stipulate that number is ONLY in Washington D.C. which covers one field office and FBI headquarters. The Inspector General did not examine the FBI’s other field offices, officials said. And the problem of taking free gifts for Intel is rampant, officials said.
New York. Los Angeles. New Haven. Philadelphia. The list goes on in the FBI’s 55 other field offices.
And so does the corruption. Outright bribery.
FBI sources who spoke to True Pundit divulged the names of three media outlets: NY Times, CNN and NBC News as having surfaced in recent external investigations. But there are dozens more, large and small.
FBI Director Christopher Wray wants this the issue of bribery and the FBI to disappear from news headlines, yet he has not launched an internal review nationwide to determine how rampant this problem is inside the FBI, sources said.
Why no national review by the Inspector General’s office?
Wray doesn’t want to go there, officials said.
In fact, high-ranking FBI officials do not want the list of FBI agents and news media divulged publicly either.
Wray and Horowitz are protecting the agents who took bribes, as well as their media enablers.
Just business as usual in The Swamp.
If Wray cared, he would find thousands of bribes and favors changing hands inside the FBI across the country.
But that would likely include FBI brass who may make a nice dime on the side selling access to FBI Intel and policy outright as well. Agents like Robert Hanssen. Or like a deputy director’s wife getting $1.25 million in campaign contributions while her husband was investigating — and clearing — the source of the funds from a criminal investigation. Rigging an investigation for cash.Is that considered a gift? Or is that a new category?
And Wray certainly recognizes that is a place he does not want to venture.
It is ugly and Wray — as he has done since taking office — wants to pretend it’s not an epidemic.
And what would Wray do if some of the involved media organizations turned around and said the payoffs for Intel were a trade off for placing stories the FBI wanted in their publications and newscasts?
Just the price of doing business behind the curtain with the FBI.
The FBI doesn’t want to lose its ability to smear its political enemies and access to the enablers — its media partners — who make it possible.
And Big Media doesn’t want to lose it’s pipeline to free Intel.
FBI: Hundreds of Bureau Agents Took Bribes from CNN, NY Times, NBC News and More; Wray Looks the Other Way to Protect Media Partners – True PunditTrue Pundit — Today,s Thought
House Judiciary Committee Issues Subpoena for Peter Strzok Testimony – Wednesday, June 27, 10:00am
The House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Bob Goodlatte, has issued a subpoena for FBI Agent Peter Strzok to appear for testimony on Wednesday, June 27 at 10:00am.
According to most reports FBI agent Strzok was removed from official responsibilities last Friday and escorted out of the building. Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions statedMr. Strzok’s security clearance had been revoked.
“Mr. Strzok as I understand has lost his security clearance,” Sessions stated during a radio interview on “The Howie Carr Show.”
Shortly before the public release of FBI Agent Strzok’s position his attorney published an Op-Ed stating that his client was not guilty of any wrongdoing; and previously stated his client was willing to testify voluntarily before congress without pleading the fifth.
House Judiciary Committee Issues Subpoena for Peter Strzok Testimony – Wednesday, June 27, 10:00am