Republican lawmakers doubled down on attacks against Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday, after new details emerged about anti-Trump text messages sent by an FBI agent who worked on the Russia investigation.
In a House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing, Republicans called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel, to assess whether the potential conflicts might wrongfully impact Mueller’s investigation into whether President Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign colluded with Russia.
The texts, sent between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page last year, referred to Trump as an “utter idiot” and a “loathsome human,” according to the committee’s chairman, Republican Bob Goodlatte.
The texts showed “extreme bias against President Trump, a fact that would be bad enough if it weren’t for the fact that these two individuals were employed as part of the Mueller ‘dream team’ investigating the very person for whom they were showing disdain,” Goodlatte said.
Strzok was part of Mueller’s team which is investigating whether Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election last year and colluded with Trump’s campaign. Moscow denies the allegations and Trump says there was no collusion.
Mueller removed Strzok from the probe when the texts came to light by the department’s inspector general, and he has been reassigned to another division.
Rosenstein, testifying to the committee, said he was not aware of any impropriety by Mueller’s office and there was no good cause to fire the special counsel.
Democrats downplayed the texts and other complaints, saying there was no evidence of bias.
“Peter Strzok did not say anything about Donald Trump that the majority of Americans weren’t also thinking at the same time,” said the committee’s top Democrat, Jerrold Nadler.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Alistair Bell)