The White House offered its first reaction to the release of the Department of Justice Inspector General’s investigation Thursday into actions by the DOJ and FBI in advance of the 2016 election, saying it solidifies some of the president’s harsh criticism against current and former top law enforcement officials.
“The president was briefed on the I.G. Report earlier today,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a press briefing Thursday. “And it reaffirmed the president’s suspicions about [former FBI Director James] Comey’s conduct and the political bias among some of the members of the FBI.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was in the White House complex for more than two hours earlier Thursday before heading to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on the inspector general’s findings along with FBI Director Chris Wray.
Sanders said reporters should tune into Wray’s press conference planned later in the day for further questions regarding the IG’s findings.
More than a week ago, President Trump tweeted raising suspicions about “numerous delays” in the release of the IG report, saying he hoped the “report is not being changed and made weaker!”
What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey. Numerous delays. Hope Report is not being changed and made weaker! There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know. Transparency!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2018
The president has previously pointed to text message exchanges between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and FBI agent Peter Strzok that included insults directed at Trump as evidence that both the investigation into his campaign’s potential ties to Russia and the outcome of the Hillary Clinton email investigation were tainted.
A new exchange released in Thursday’s IG report showed Strzok in an August 2016 text to Page said “We’ll stop it” regarding a question on whether Trump could be elected president. The IG said text implied “a willingness [by Strzok] to take official action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects,” even if there was no evidence found that any such action was taken by either Strzok or Page.
In a January interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump went as far to accuse Strzok of “treason” regarding his political texts.
Sanders on Thursday was asked whether the president believes Strzok should still be employed at the FBI.
“I haven’t asked him but my guess would be no,” Sanders said.
(MORE: FBI’s decisions not politically-motivated but agent actions hurt reputation: DOJ watchdog)
(MORE: FBI official texted: ‘We’ll stop it’ referring to Trump becoming president)