Hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was prepared to fire bad actors in the bureau based on the recommendations of the Justice Department inspector general, the IG recommended the investigation of five FBI agents for anti-Trump bias.
Speaking about the anticipated report in an interview that aired Thursday, Sessions said, "If anyone else shows up in this report to have done something that requires termination we will do so."
In the damning report released Thursday, the IG referred five FBI employees for investigation over their politically charged texts demonstrating bias against Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton, revealing that even more agents were overtly biased than previously known.
Several messages, the report explains, "appeared to mix political opinion with discussions about the MYE investigation" (an abbreviation for "Midyear Exam," code for the Clinton investigation). "Some of these text messages and instant messages mixed political commentary with discussions about the Midyear investigation, and raised concerns that political bias may have impacted investigative decisions," the report read, Fox News notes.
"The text messages and instant messages sent by these employees included statements of hostility toward then candidate Trump and statements of support for candidate Clinton," the report states. Below are a few examples highlighted by Fox:
The report revealed instant messages between unnamed agents, labeled “Agent 1” and “Agent 5,” discussing their jobs in August 2016.
“I find anyone who enjoys [this job] an absolute f---ing idiot. If you don’t think so, ask them one more question. Who are you voting for? I guarantee you it will be Donald Drumpf,” Agent 1 sent.
“I forgot about drumpf…that’s so sad and pathetic if they want to vote for him,” Agent 5 responded. “Someone who can’t answer a question. Someone who can’t be professional for even a second.”
In September, Agent 1 and 5 conversed again, bashing Trump supporters as “retarded.”
“I’m trying to think of a ‘would I rather’ instead of spending time with those people,” Agent 5 sent.
Agent 1 asked, “stick your tongue in a fan??”
Agent 5 later wrote: “I would rather have brunch with trump and a bunch of his supporters like the ones from ohio that are retarded.”
Among the five FBI officials, three of whom are not named in the report, FBI agent Peter Strzok and former bureau lawyer Lisa Page repeatedly demonstrated overt bias against Trump. Though many of the texts between Strzok and Page, who were having an affair at the time, have been previously reported, the IG revealed one particularly alarming text from Strzok that had not previously come to light.
"[Trump's] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Page wrote in a message to Strzok.
"No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it," replied Strzok.
Strzok played key roles not only in the Clinton investigation, but also in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Trump before Strzok was removed for anti-Trump bias. In a statement to Fox, Strzok's attorney insisted that his client never allowed his political bias to influence his actions in his work for the bureau.
While Republicans have pointed to the overwhelming evidence of political bias against Trump, with no evidence of bias in favor of him or against Clinton, Democrats are focusing on the IG's conclusion that he did not find clear evidence that political bias "directly" influenced the actions of the FBI.
"There were clearly tensions and disagreements in a number of important areas between Midyear agents and prosecutors," the IG explains. "However, we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative decisions."
Ultimately, the IG slams Comey and the other bad actors for "cast[ing] a cloud" over how the bureau handled the investigation of Clinton. What will come of the five agents recommended for investigation remains to be seen.
Note: This article has been updated to clarify that Strzok and Page are among the five FBI officials the IG referred for investigation.