Two FBI officials who would later be assigned to the special counsel's investigation into Donald Trump's presidential campaign described him as "awful," an "idiot," and a "loathsome human" in a series of text messages last year, according to copies of 375 messages released Tuesday. Peter Strzok, a veteran FBI counterintelligence agent, said in an election night text that the prospect of a Trump victory was "terrifying," reports the AP. Strzok, who also made derogatory comments about Democrats, was removed over the summer from special counsel Robert Mueller's team following the discovery of text messages exchanged with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer who was also assigned this year to the investigation. Page had already concluded her detail when the messages surfaced and returned to the FBI.
Hundreds of the messages, which surfaced in a Justice Department inspector general investigation of the FBI's inquiry into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, were being provided to congressional committees. The issue is likely to be a focus of a congressional hearing Wednesday involving Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel in May and oversees his team's work. Trump has used the revelation to disparage FBI leadership as politically tainted. Republicans have also seized on the texts to suggest Mueller's team is biased against Trump. But though Strzok wrote that he was "worried about what Trump is encouraging in our behavior" in August 2016, he also said, "I'm worried about what happens if HRC is elected," using the initials for Hillary Rodham Clinton.