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Trump — without evidence — accuses Mueller of 'illegally' deleting FBI text messages

President Trump and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Key Points
  • Trump claims special counsel Robert Mueller illegally "teminated" texts between former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
  • Strzok and Page had swapped disparaging remarks about the president.
  • Trump's accusation against Mueller follows news that the former special counsel will testify before two House committees about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
President Trump and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused special counsel Robert Mueller — without offering any evidence – of having "terminated" text messages between two FBI employees, which the president said was "a crime."

"Mueller terminated them illegally. He terminated all of the emails," Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network.

"Robert Mueller terminated their text messages together. He terminated them. They're gone. And that's illegal. That's a crime."

Trump was referring to an exchange of text messages between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

The two, who were involved in a romantic relationship, had swapped disparaging remarks about the president, referring to Trump as an "idiot" and a "loathsome human."

A Justice Department spokeswoman, when asked about Trump's accusation about Mueller, declined to comment.

Trump's accusation came a day after Democrats announced that Mueller will appear before two House committees about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

Mueller is scheduled to testify about his report in front of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on July 17.

Mueller has said his investigation found that Russia did meddle in the campaign, but that there was no evidence to conclude that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia in that effort. He also said he did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice by interfering with the probe.

In December, Trump tweeted that "the Mueller Angry Democrats" had deleted thousands of messages between Page and Strzok, calling the move "a total Obstruction of Justice."

In his interview Wednesday, Trump once again labeled Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt" and a "hoax."

Strzok and Page worked briefly on that investigation.

After Mueller learned about their texts, Strzok was reassigned to a different post. 

Page's 45-day-long detail on Mueller's team ended last July.

Last year, a Justice Department watchdog recovered thousands of text messages between the two employees on phones issued to them by the FBI.

But the agency has said the missing texts were lost due to technical glitches with software used to collect messages.

Republicans have questioned that explanation, said the texts and raised concerns the FBI was biased against Trump.

Page resigned from the FBI on May 4, 2018, and Strzok was fired last August, the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General said.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

President Trump and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images