A series of text messages exchanged between top FBI employees that were critical of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump were released to lawmakers Tuesday evening on Capitol Hill amid increasing demands to see them, according to documents reviewed by CNN.
Earlier this month, reports surfaced that special counsel Robert Mueller had removed Peter Strzok, one of the FBI's top Russian counterintelligence experts, from his team after an internal investigation uncovered politically tinged messages exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The messages span from August 2015 to December 2016.
As the former No. 2 official in counterintelligence, Strzok helped lead the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server and was involved in opening the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, but he was reassigned to the human resources division this summer. Page was also briefly on Mueller's team before returning to the FBI, but she completed her detail before the special counsel's office was made aware of the texts.
Various congressional investigators, including the House Intelligence Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee, have requested access to Strzok's messages since news of the texts broke and the Justice Department agreed to turn them over.
Tuesday's release comes just hours ahead of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's scheduled testimony before a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Wednesday morning. FBI Director Christopher Wray was questioned at length last week about Strzok and lawmakers have signaled similar plans for Rosenstein.