Strzok, Page and the FBI texting scandal explained

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election continues, two former members of his team are under scrutiny for text messages they exchanged about President Trump and the probe.

In the messages, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were romantically involved, bashed Trump and discussed concerns about being too tough on Hillary Clinton during an investigation into the use of her private email server. 

Overall, the pair exchanged some 50,000 text messages throughout the presidential election and first year of the Trump administration, many of them with anti-Trump sentiments.

In one particular message, when Page asked if Trump would ever become president, Strzok reportedly replied, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

Other text messages showed an allegiance for fired FBI Director James Comey.

The messages have not gone unnoticed by GOP lawmakers or Trump. Republicans have argued that their messages color the outcome of the Clinton email investigation and undercut the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Russian election interference. The president has often tweeted personal attacks at Page and Strzok and called the texts “hate filled and biased.”

The Justice Department’s inspector general has criticized Strzok and Page for creating the appearance of impropriety through the texts. But the report said it found no evidence of political bias in the FBI’s decision to not pursue criminal charges against Clinton. 

Here’s a look at who exchanged the text messages – and who would eventually leave the FBI.

Peter Strzok

FILE - In this June 27, 2018, file photo, Peter Strzok, the FBI agent facing criticism following a series of anti-Trump text messages, walks to gives a deposition before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Strzok, whose anti-Trump text messages fueled suspicions of partisan bias will tell lawmakers July 12 that his law enforcement work has never been tainted by political considerations and that the intense congressional scrutiny of him represents “just another victory notch in Putin’s belt,” according to prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Peter Strzok exchanged anti-Trump text messages with Lisa Page.

 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A veteran counterintelligence agent, Peter Strzok was assigned to both the investigation into Clinton’s personal email server and the special counsel’s probe into potential collusion between Trump officials and Russia during the election.

Strzok was removed from the Russia investigation after it was revealed that he exchanged anti-Trump text messages with Page, then a senior FBI lawyer.

According to the text messages, Strzok was hesitant to join Mueller’s investigation because of his “gut sense” that there was “no big there there.”

Strzok, a former Army ranger, is expected to publicly tell House investigators that his work was never tainted by his politics, and the intense scrutiny he is under is “just another victory notch in [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s belt,” according to remarks obtained by The Associated Press.

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Strzok previously worked on investigations pertaining to Chinese and Russian espionage, according to The New York Times. ABC first reported that Strzok left the probe and was reassigned to the human resources division in August 2017.

In June, his lawyer announced Strzok was “escorted” from the FBI building.

Lisa Page

Lisa Page

Lisa Page was only briefly on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

 (Lisa Page’s legal team)

A lawyer for the FBI, Lisa Page was only temporarily on Mueller’s team, but she discussed the investigation with Strzok.

Page warned Strzok via text about the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state, saying in February 2016 that she “might be our next president.”

“The last thing you need [is] going in there loaded for bear,” Page continued. “You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more [DOJ] than [FBI]?”

Page, who has “deep experience [in] money laundering and organized crime cases,” was removed from the investigation in September 2017. She left the FBI in May. 

House lawmakers have subpoenaed her to appear for a private interview and warned her that they would begin the process of holding her in contempt if she does not show. Her lawyer said Page had offered to voluntarily appear before the committees but needed more clarification about what the lawmakers would be asking.

Andrew McCabe

A controversial figure at the FBI, deputy director Andrew McCabe was seemingly referenced by Page and Strzok in their text messages.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok texted in August 2016. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” 

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Some lawmakers believed “Andy” to be a reference to McCabe.

In another text that same month, Strzok told Page McCabe was concerned with “information control” about the investigation into Trump’s campaign.

McCabe, whose wife ran as a Democrat for a Virginia Senate seat with financial assistance from a group tied to Clinton, was a controversial figure in the bureau. He repeatedly faced criticism from Trump.

“How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?” Trump asked in a December 2017 tweet.

In January, McCabe was “removed” from his post, taking “terminal leave” until his planned retirement in March. However, he was ultimately fired before he was set to leave his post.

Robert Mueller

FILE - In this June 21, 2017, file photo, Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election.

 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller was tasked with overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election after Sessions recused himself.

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Mueller led the FBI through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and served under presidential administrations of both parties.

His Russia probe has led to charges for four former Trump campaign officials, although none of the charges directly stem from misconduct during the election.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn.

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