The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Chuck Grassley, is now using the sweeping investigative power he has to collect evidence from the FBI of political bias within the Justice Department.
The Iowa Republican is pressing the FBI for every and all documents related to the activities of FBI agent Peter Strzok following the reports that he had demonstrated bias against President Trump while playing key roles in the investigations into the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server and in the special counsel probe into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.
“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 [former national security adviser Michael] Flynn,” Grassley wrote in his letter to the FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“Strzok’s behavior and involvement in these two politically sensitive cases raise new concerns of inappropriate political influence in the work of the FBI,” Grassley had added.
Grassley’s office on Wednesday said that the FBI has failed to comply with the previous, broader Judiciary Committee requests that had called for records relating to the communications of Stzrok and others.
The House Intelligence Committee has complained about similar FBI stonewalling techniques regarding the documents about Stzrok and related information about the former FBI Director, James Comey’s controversial statement last year that had announced that the agency had decided not to bring any criminal charges against Clinton in the email investigations.
Over the weekend, Representative Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, has directed his staff to write up the legislation that would hold the FBI in the contempt of Congress. Nunes cited media reports that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller had removed Strzok from his investigative team after discovering that he and the FBI lawyer Lisa Page, his alleged mistress, had exchanged politically charged texts disparaging President Trump and supporting Hillary Clinton.
Grassley, in his letter to Wray, further said “it appears” that Mueller “may have learned this information from the Office of [Justice Department’s] Inspector General’s ongoing review of the handling of controversial pre-election activities of the Justice Department and FBI related to the campaign.”
Strzok, a top FBI official who had led the agency’s counterintelligence division, was reassigned to work in the FBI’s human resources department after his removal from Mueller’s special counsel team.
The texts between Strzok and Page had occurred while both were working on Clinton’s investigations. Grassley, citing news reports, said Strzok “appears to have been responsible for removing language suggesting legal jeopardy for Clinton” in Comey’s conclusion of that investigation.
Strzok also was one of the two agents who would go on to interview Flynn during the Russia probe.
Grassley had said in October he wrote a letter to Strzok requesting “voluntary cooperation and a private transcribed interview with the committee,” but has received no replies.
Grassley has also requested in his letter to Wray to view all the text messages in question, as well as any additional communications that may contain favorable or unfavorable statements about Trump or Hillary Clinton and any communications that may be involving Strzok regarding decisions about closing the Clinton investigation or opening up the investigation into potential collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government.
Grassley gave the FBI until December 11th to hand over the documents related to Strzok.