- Jack Torry Washington Bureau
Rep. Jim Jordan of Urbana said he has “real cause for concern” the FBI “may have been trying to tip” the presidential election last year to Democrat Hillary Clinton in an effort to defeat Republican Donald Trump.
During an interview Thursday with WHIO Radio in Dayton, Jordan, one of the most conservative Republicans in the U.S. House, said text messages between Peter Strzok, former deputy assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, and Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer, suggested an intent “to put in place a plan and execute a plan to try to stop Donald Trump from being president.”
“When … the deputy head of counter intelligence is making those kinds of statements in a text message, that is real cause for concern,” Jordan said. “It seems to show the FBI may have been trying to tip the scales in this whole election process, which should never happen in this country.”
Ironically, allies of Clinton and Trump both suggest the FBI was involved in trying to defeat their candidates.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed Strzok last summer from a key role in his investigation on whether Trump and his campaign aides colluded with Russian officials to damage Clinton’s election chances last year. Mueller made the decision when he discovered Strzok and Page sent each other text messages highly critical of Trump and his candidacy.
But Mueller’s decision to remove Strzok has not stopped Republican allies of Trump from launching a series of attacks on both the FBI and Mueller’s team. While saying he is more concerned with FBI actions before the election, Jordan told CNN Wednesday that “most of Mueller’s team is anti-Trump.”
Jim Manley, a onetime adviser to former Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., called Jordan’s assertion “a completely ridiculous idea from the imagination of right-wing kooks.”
“This kind of rhetoric is extremely dangerous,” Manley said. “For him to suggest there is some kind of cabal within the FBI that’s working to overturn out elections is straight out of a Third World country.”
Mueller, a Republican and former director of the FBI, is one of the most respected attorneys in Washington. Former President George W. Bush tapped Mueller to head the FBI in 2001.
Some GOP lawmakers are urging Trump to fire Mueller, a move the president so far ruled out. In a floor speech Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., warned if Trump fires Mueller, “our country would face a constitutional crisis.”
In addition, 171 House Democrats sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein urging that Mueller “be allowed to continue his investigation.”
The letter, signed by Democrats Joyce Beatty of Jefferson Township, Tim Ryan of Niles, Marcy Kaptur of Toledo and Marcia Fudge of Cleveland, said it was “unimaginable that Republicans would seek to intervene, discredit, obstruct, or terminate” Mueller’s investigation.
Rosenstein tapped Mueller in May to be special counsel and has publicly defended his work.
Attacking a special prosecutor is a time-honored practice by both parties in Washington. In 1998, allies of President Bill Clinton assailed Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr as a partisan Republican for his investigation into whether Clinton lied under oath about an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The Republican-controlled House impeached Clinton, but the Senate did not convict him.
Hillary Clinton and her aides blamed former FBI Director James Comey for stalling her campaign momentum last year during FBI investigation into whether as secretary of state under President Barack Obama she violated federal law by setting up a private e-mail server.
Comey cleared Clinton of wrongdoing in the summer of 2016, but a week before the election he announced FBI officials would examine a newly discovered batch of e-mails.
Although Comey cleared Clinton the day before the election, Clinton and her advisers say he badly damaged her chances to win.
Trump fired Comey earlier this year.