Congressional Republicans are waging a campaign against FBI and Department of Justice officials who they believe hold political opinions that are doing harm to Donald Trump’s presidency, with a goal of undermining special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has agreed to subpoena top FBI and Justice Department employees as part of his committee’s investigation into alleged bias among the ranks of federal employees against Trump, Politico reported Saturday.
Republicans are targeting top FBI officials, along with a wife of a former deputy attorney general who reportedly worked for a firm that gathered information on Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign that resulted in what became known as the Trump-Russia dossier. The primary aim of the GOP campaign is to sabotage Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told Fox News on Saturday that he received a commitment from Goodlatte to subpoena FBI and Justice officials. “President Trump won in spite of the Republican establishment” and “the FBI and Justice Department being against him,” Jordan said. The Ohio congressman is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, whose members are among the most conservative Republicans in Congress.
“We’re going to subpoena Andrew McCabe, subpoena Peter Strzok … Bruce Orr and his wife [Nellie], Lisa Page, and I also think the chief of staff of the FBI needs to be brought in,” he said. McCabe is the deputy director of the FBI, while Bruce Ohr is the former associate deputy attorney general.
House Republicans have claimed that texts between the FBI’s top counterintelligence agent, Peter Strzok, and FBI attorney Lisa Page showed hostility toward Trump and have tainted Mueller’s investigation into the administration. But texts also show that the two employees criticized members from both political parties. In a text, Strzok “worried about what happens if HRC is elected,” referring to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Page also referred to supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as “idiots,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Strzok was removed from Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administration after the special counsel in late July learned of the texts between the counterintelligence agent and Page. Both of them are the subjects of an internal FBI investigation.
The Mueller investigation isn’t the only target of Republicans in Washington. The Trump administration itself is conducting its own investigations of possible Trump opponents who work within federal agencies. A public relations official has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the Environmental Protection Agency targeting agency employees believed to be critical of Trump. Allan Blutstein, a vice president for Definers Public Affairs, told the New York Times that he was investigating anti-Trump “resistance” figures in the government.
In September, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said nearly one-third of employees at his department are not loyal to him and Trump. Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, said he knew when he took over the 70,000-employee department in March that, “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag.”
Democrats have noted that FBI agents are allowed to have political views, so long as those views do not bias their investigations or the cases they choose to investigate. Last week, House Democrats asked the Justice Department to hand over evidence that the FBI was politically biased against Hillary Clinton.