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An FBI agent who worked on the special counsel's Russia probe texted another investigator in August 2016 that "We'll stop" Donald Trump from getting elected president, according to Thursday's watchdog report on the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server.
Previous texts exchanged by Peter Strzok and Lisa Page had already landed the pair in hot water, and have been used by Trump as a cudgel to attack both the investigation into Clinton's emails as well as the special counsel's Russia probe. The newly revealed messages, some of the 40,000 that the inspector general reviewed in total, appear to be the most explicit texts so far made public.
Mueller removed Strzok from his staff after he became aware of the texts. Page departed Mueller's staff shortly before the first anti-Trump text exchanges between the two were made public.
Strzok, who worked in a senior role on the Clinton email investigation before joining the staff of the special counsel, reportedly wrote to Page, an attorney, that the two would stop the president from being elected.
"[Trump is] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Page, who also worked on Mueller's staff, responded.
"No. No he won't. We'll stop it," Strzok texted back.
"After a year-long investigation that included a review of millions of communications and interviews of scores of witnesses, the IG concluded that there is no evidence that the political views of Special Agent Strzok and others in the FBI impacted the handling of the Clinton email investigation," Strzok's attorney, Aitan Goelman, said in a statement to CNBC. "As the Report notes, Special Agent Strzok in particular was consistently thorough and aggressive, sometimes to the point that put him at odds with senior officials at the Department of Justice."
Thursday's watchdog report from the Department of Justice examined Strzok's and Page's actions and found no evidence that "political bias" tainted their work.
"We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed," the department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, wrote in the conclusion of his report issued Thursday.
The report did find that the pair's messaging "cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation."
Strzok may also have improperly prioritized the Russia probe over the investigation into Clinton toward the end of the 2016 campaign, the report said.
Because of his text messages, "we did not have confidence that Strzok's decision to prioritize the Russia investigation" was free from bias, the report said.
Strzok's possible bias led investigators to search through emails, text messages and other documents to locate evidence that the investigation into Clinton's emails was derailed. There was no evidence found to suggest that it was, according to the report.
The report does note that no consistent explanation was given for the FBI's failure to act for almost a month after discovering new emails potentially related to the Clinton investigation.
Clinton has blamed the disclosure by then-FBI Director James Comey of those emails to Congress just days ahead of the election as a reason for her electoral defeat.