Ex-FBI agent who worked on Mueller probe believes Trump 'continues to be compromised by the Russians’

Strzok regrets sending texts criticising Trump that were ‘weaponised’ by Trump and his allies to undermine faith in Mueller inquiry

Griffin Connolly
Sunday 13 September 2020 19:50
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Former FBI agent Peter Strzok, a favourite punching bag for Donald Trump and right-wing media, has said he still believes Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, have kompromat on the president that prevents him from serving the “national interest” of the US.

“I believed at the time in 2016 and I continue to believe that Donald Trump is compromised by the Russians,” Mr Strzok said in an interview on NBC's “Meet the Press.”

“And when I say that I mean that they hold leverage over him that makes him incapable of placing the national interest, the national security ahead of his own,” said Mr Strzok, who led the FBI’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server in violation of government security protocols.

"One of the largest ways that people in foreign governments gain leverage, certainly in the case of the president, is through financial entanglements," Mr Strzok explained on Sunday.

“And I think when you take a look at the Trump financial enterprise, particularly its relationship with Russian, with Russian monies and potentially those related to organized crime and other elements, that those interactions have placed him in a position where the Russians have leverage over him and are able to influence his actions,” he said.

Mr Strzok has become a bogeyman in conservative media for two episodes: one involving the probe into Ms Clinton and the other related to his work on former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election interference and possible ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.

Mr Strzok was instrumental in editing the FBI’s conclusions about Ms Clinton’s actions with regard to the personal email server, characterising them as “extremely reckless” instead of the originally drafted from “grossly negligent” — which could have constituted a criminal offence.

In 2017, Mr Mueller removed him from the special counsel team after becoming aware of personal texts between Mr Strzok and his mistress, then-Justice Department lawyer Lisa Page, expressing their mutual disdain for Mr Trump, raising the spectre of a political conflict of interest.

The DOJ inspector general issued a report concluding that neither investigation was influenced by political bias, but Mr Trump has continued to needle Mr Strzok and Ms Page at his campaign rallies for the text messages and their affair.

Mr Strzok lamented on Sunday how his text messages with Ms Page were “weaponised” by Mr Trump and his allies in Congress to undermine Americans’ faith in the integrity of Mr Mueller’s probe.

"I certainly regret sending the text messages that were absolutely weaponized and used to bludgeon the work of the FBI, the work of the special counsel, I'll always regret that," Mr Strzok said.

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