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Deputy AG To Answer Allegations Of Bias On Special Counsel's Team

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein addresses the North American International Cyber Summit, in October.
Carlos Osorio
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein addresses the North American International Cyber Summit, in October.

When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein faces questions Wednesday on Capitol Hill about the investigation into Russia's election interference, he is certain to be asked about unflattering text messages exchanged by FBI agents about then-candidate Donald Trump.

In the text messages, seen by NPR's Carrie Johnson, between agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, Trump is referred to several times as an "idiot."

In one such back-and-forth from August 2015, Page texts: "I just saw my first Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. Made me want to key the car." Strzok replies: "He's an idiot like Trump. Figure they cancel each other out."

In another exchange in March 2016, Page called Trump "a loathsome human" and an "idiot" and Strzok responded: "He's awful."

USA Today reports that the messages are among 375 in which Strzok and Page also made disparaging remarks about "[then-Democratic presidential candidate] Martin O'Malley — and pondered the sexual preference of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich."

Trump, in tweets earlier this month, lashed out at the bureau, saying that its reputation was "in Tatters – worst in History!" and that an agent who had been with the special counsel probe is "very dishonest."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., also said in a statement announcing that Rosenstein would testify before the committee: "I am very troubled by the recent controversy surrounding staff assigned to the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in last year's presidential election."

Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray pushed back against attacks on his agency as he appeared before Goodlatte's committee, insisting, "There is no finer institution than the FBI."

"There is no shortage of opinions out there, but what I can tell you is that the FBI that I see is tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep Americans safe," said Wray, who took over the bureau four months ago after the president fired James Comey.

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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