ABC News first reported in August that Peter Strzok, who had been tapped only weeks earlier by Mueller to help lead the probe of alleged Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election, had left Mueller’s team. Details about the sudden departure remained elusive at the time.
As initially reported today by The Washington Post and The New York Times, Strzok during the presidential campaign last year sent messages to a colleague that some believe could be interpreted as critical of then-candidate Donald Trump.
It’s unclear if the messages continued after Trump became president and after Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May. Strzok and the person he was texting, identified by The Washington Post as FBI veteran Lisa Page, both ended up on Mueller’s team.
According to the Post, Strzok and Page were involved in a romantic relationship.
“Immediately upon learning of the allegations, the Special Counsel’s Office removed Peter Strzok from the investigation,” Mueller spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement Saturday. “Lisa Page completed her brief [assignment] and had returned to the FBI weeks before our office was aware of the allegations.”
The Justice Department‘s inspector general has been looking into Strzok’s actions and indicated in a statement today that the review is part of broader investigations announced in January of how the FBI and Justice Department handled matters associated with the 2016 presidential election.
The inspector general’s office “has been reviewing allegations involving communications between certain individuals, and will report its findings regarding those allegations promptly upon completion of the review of them,” the statement said.
Strzok has spent much of his law enforcement career working counterintelligence cases and has been unanimously praised by government officials who spoke with ABC News. He is now working for the FBI’s human resources division.
He is no stranger to complex and controversial investigations.