FBI Agent Peter Strzok, author of anti-Trump text messages, escorted out of bureau headquarters but still employed: Lawyer

  • FBI Agent Peter Strzok was escorted out of the bureau's headquarters, but remains employed by the bureau, his lawyer said.
  • Strzok wrote a number of text messages critical of President Donald Trump that have come to light.
  • Trump supporters and the president have argued that special counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into the 2016 presidential election and Russian meddling in the campaign was tainted by Strzok's bias against the president.
FBI Agent Peter Strzok in January.
Ron Sachs | picture-alliance/dpa | AP
FBI Agent Peter Strzok in January.

Peter Strzok, the FBI agent whose text messages highly critical of President Donald Trump have fueled claims that the special counsel's ongoing investigation of the Trump presidential campaign is tainted by bias, was escorted out of the bureau's headquarters, his lawyer said Tuesday.

But Strzok "remains a proud FBI agent who wants to continue working to keep the American people safe," his lawyer Aitan Goelman said in a prepared statement.

Goelman said that Strzok was "escorted from the [FBI] building as part of ... ongoing internal proceedings."

Goelman's statement was issued on the heels of Twitter posts by several reporters saying that Strzok had been marched out of the FBI building in Washington on Friday. That was a day after the release of a report by the Justice Department's internal watchdog, which criticized Strzok for his conduct.

An FBI spokeswoman, when contacted by CNBC, said "we don't have a comment," when asked both if Strzok remained employed by the bureau, and if he was escorted from the building as reported.

"Generally speaking, we do not comment on personnel matters," the spokeswoman said.

Goelman, in his statement, said, "Pete has steadfastly played by the rules and respected the process, and yet he continues to be the target of unfounded personal attacks, political games and inappropriate information leaks," Goelman said.

"All of this seriously calls into question the impartiality of the disciplinary process, which now appears tainted by political influence," Goelman said. "Instead of publicly calling for a long-serving FBI agent to be summarily fired, politicians should allow the disciplinary process to play out free from political pressure."

"Our leaders and the public should be very concerned with how readily such influence has been allowed to undermine due process and the legal protections owed to someone who has served his country for so long. Pete Strzok and the American people deserve better."

Goelman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Strzok was removed from the investigatory team headed by special counsel Robert Mueller last summer after he became aware of Strzok's communications with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer romantically involved with the agent.

Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, possible collusion by members of the Trump campaign team with Russians, and possible obstruction of justice by the president.

In one message before the election, Page asked Strzok, "Trump's not ever going to be president, right? Right?!"

"No. No he won't. We'll stop it," Strzok replied.

A report issued last week by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General — which was largely focused on an inquiry into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server — recommended that the FBI take administrative action against Strzok and Page, as well as three other unnamed bureau employees.

"The damage caused by [Strzok and Page's] actions extends far beyond the scope of the [Clinton email] investigation and goes to the heart of the FBI's reputation for neutral fact finding and political independence," Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in the report.

But Horowitz's report did not say that that Strzok's bias influenced the FBI's probe of Russian meddling.

During testimony Tuesday before Congress, Horowitz was asked if he believed whether Strzok's texts showed political bias.

"I think as we found it clearly shows a biased state of mind," Horowitz said.

Asked if he believed that Strzok's bias had an effect on the initiation of the Russia investigation, Horowitz said "that's a matter that we have under review and are looking at right now."

Trump has seized on the texts to criticize Mueller's probe.