Multiple media outlets are reporting today details of how two romantically-involved FBI agents assigned to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of possible collusion between Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian government officials were fired by Mueller after he became aware of their text messages disparaging the president and praising Hillary R. Clinton–including commentary about presidential debate performances.
The New York Times reported today that senior FBI agent Peter Strzok, the bureau’s deputy head of counter-intelligence, was reassigned to the FBI’s human resources section after Mueller learned of his text messages that came to light during FBI Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’s inquiries.
The Times also reported that Horowitz is investigating the circumstances of FBI Director James B. Comey Jr.’s handling of investigation Hillary R. Clinton’s private email server that she used for all official electronic correspondence while she was leading the State Department.
Strzok participated in the FBI’s July 2, 2016 interview with Clinton before Comey announced July 5 that he would recommend that no criminal charges be brought against Clinton–a decision documents appear to show that Comey arrived at before his investigation began.
In September, ABCNews reported on Strzok’s departure as a “stepping away” from an investigation that he was hired to lead in a remarkable exhibit of source-massaging by reporters Pierre Thomas and Mike Levine.:
It’s unclear why Strzok stepped away from Mueller’s team of nearly two dozen lawyers, investigators and administrative staffers. Strzok, who has spent much of his law enforcement career working counterintelligence cases and has been unanimously praised by government officials who spoke with ABC News, is now working for the FBI’s human resources division.
One source told ABC News today he’s sorry Mueller’s team no longer has Strzok’s experience and insight at its disposal.
Strzok is no stranger to complex and controversial investigations.
As chief of the FBI’s counterespionage section last year, he helped oversee the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was the secretary of state, and he took part in the bureau’s interview of her.
Within weeks of the end of the Clinton probe, Strzok found his office facing a new challenge: Investigating Russia’s alleged efforts to influence last year’s presidential election, including hacking of Democratic National Committee computers.
In the same report, Thomas and Levine also describe the surprise departure of the FBI attorney Lisa Page:
The latest FBI veteran to leave, Lisa Page, was described by media accounts in June as a trial attorney with “deep experience [in] money laundering and organized crime cases.” She was part of what Wired magazine called Mueller’s “investigatory dream team.”
But weeks ago, Page left the Special Counsel’s office and returned to work in the office of the FBI’s general counsel, sources said. According to one source, Page joined Mueller’s team on a short, temporary assignment and always expected to return as soon as that assignment ended.
This report is now exposed as a complete whitewash as The Washington Post has reported that Page was also fired by Mueller for the inappropriate texts she exchanged with Strzok:
During the Clinton investigation, Strzok was involved in a romantic relationship with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who worked for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The extramarital affair was problematic, these people said, but of greater concern among senior law enforcement officials were text messages the two exchanged during the Clinton investigation and campaign season, in which they expressed anti-Trump sentiments and other comments that appeared to favor Clinton.
If that was not enough excitement from the FBI, recall too, that Page worked for the same deputy director of the FBI, whose wife Dr. Jill McCabe received roughly $700,000 in political donations for her state assembly race attributed to the good offices of Virginia Gov. Terence R. McAuliffe, the former head of the Democratic National Committee and friend of the Clinton.
This, of course, is the very same deputy director of the FBI, who is the target of a pending Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint by Supervisory Special Agent Robyn Gritz–a complaint supported by testimony from retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn–testimony Circa reported that the FBI tried to block.
President Trump Announces Planned Ban on Chinese-Owned TikTok App
The app has serious spying concerns.
President Donald Trump announced that he’s preparing to ban the video app TikTok on national security grounds on Friday, citing the concerns over the Chinese app’s connections to Chinese government security, and the potential use of the nominally innocent app to surveil American citizens.
The President had made the announcement on an Air Force One flight to the press pool, later confirming that the media could report on the policy move on the record.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” said the President bluntly.
TikTok is a viral video app marketed to teenagers and young adults that allows users to create short and edited videos. It’s frequently used for memes, pranks, and simple political content. It’s owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which is obligated to cooperate with Chinese intelligence services under the laws of China.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had previously spoken of security concerns involving the Chinese app. Microsoft had recently offered to purchase the app from its parent company, but the surveillance and security surrounding it appear to have shelved such a possibility for now.
There are genuine surveillance and data-mining concerns with TikTok, but it’s also probably worth considering that banning the app will allow neoliberal tech monopolies such as Facebook and Apple to share up an even larger share of the demand for platforms designed for similar content.
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