President Trump claimed an FBI agent from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team who sent critical text messages about him had committed “treason."
Trump asserted that a text message sent by FBI agent Peter Strzok was a “treasonous act,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
“A man is tweeting to his lover that if [Democrat Hillary Clinton] loses, we’ll essentially do the insurance policy. We’ll go to phase two and we’ll get this guy out of office,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, offering his interpretation of Strzok’s text.
“This is the FBI we’re talking about — that is treason,” Trump added. “That is a treasonous act. What he tweeted to his lover is a treasonous act.”
In response, an attorney for Strzok claimed Trump’s accusations were “beyond reckless.”
“It is beyond reckless for the president of the United States to accuse Pete Strzok, a man who has devoted his entire adult life to defending this country, of treason,” attorney Aitan Goelman said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “It should surprise no one that the president has both the facts and the law wrong.”
According to the Constitution, treason is defined as assisting U.S. enemies or “levying war” against the U.S.
Strzok was removed from Mueller’s team in August and moved to a human resources position after it was revealed he and Lisa Page exchanged text messages during the Clinton investigation and 2016 campaign in which they expressed anti-Trump sentiments and favoritism to Clinton.
Strzok was also a lead investigator in the investigation into Clinton's unauthorized private email server.
In one of Strzok’s texts to Page, he said: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration...that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
It’s not clear what Strzok meant exactly, but those familiar with Strzok’s account said the “insurance policy” reference intended to communicate that the FBI must investigate thoroughly allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Trump denied there was any collusion with the Kremlin and obstruction of justice by firing FBI Director James Comey last year while his agency was investigating the Russia matter.
“Of course there was no obstruction — there was no crime,” Trump said in the Wall Street Journal interview. “They make up a crime, and the crime doesn’t exist, and then they say obstruction.”
The messages between Strzok and Page were revealed as part of an inspector general investigation concerning the FBI’s behavior during the 2016 election.
Page was also removed from Mueller’s probe, and both are anticipated to meet with the House Intelligence Committee regarding their roles in the Trump and Clinton investigations.