Two FBI officials who would later be assigned to the special counsel’s investigation into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign described him as an “idiot” and “loathsome human” in a series of text messages last year, according to copies released on Tuesday.
One said in an election night text that the prospect of a Trump victory was “terrifying”.
Peter Strzok, an FBI counterintelligence agent, was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team earlier this year following the discovery of text messages exchanged with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer.
Hundreds of the messages, which surfaced in a justice department investigation of the FBI’s inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, were provided to congressional committees.
The existence of the text messages, disclosed in news reports earlier this month, provided a line of attack for Trump, who used the revelation to disparage FBI leadership as politically tainted. Republicans have also seized on the exchange to suggest the Mueller team is biased against Trump.
The issue is likely to be a focus of a congressional hearing on Wednesday involving deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel in May and oversees his team’s work.
A spokesman for Mueller said Strzok was removed from the team as soon as the allegations were brought to the office’s attention, and that Page had already concluded her work by that time and returned to the FBI. Strzok has been reassigned within the FBI.
The texts seen by the AP began mid-2015, soon after the FBI launched its email server investigation, and continued over the next year and a half as the presidential race was in full swing.
The messages – 375 were released on Tuesday evening – cover a broad range of political topics. There are some derogatory comments about Democratic officials, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and former attorney general Eric Holder, but some of the harshest comments are reserved for Trump.