WASHINGTON — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told a House committee Wednesday that he saw no reason to dismiss Robert Mueller – and that the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation took the appropriate action to remove a senior FBI agent from his team last summer after exchanging overtly political text messages with a colleague.
Rosenstein’s appearance comes just hours after the Justice Department forwarded Congress hundreds of text messages linked to a top FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, who in long-running communications with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, variously referred to Trump as an “idiot” and a “loathsome human,” while expressing a clear preference for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The contacts covered a period in which Strzok also helped oversee the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Rosenstein further defended Mueller by saying that he was exercising appropriate oversight over his probe.
“I know what he is doing,” Rosenstein said of Mueller. “I am not aware of any impropriety.”
Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia seized on the Strzok-Page disclosures to launch a broadside on the Mueller investigation, saying that the communications were “deeply troubling” and threatened the impartiality of the special counsel’s inquiry and Justice Department operations.
Goodlatte said that Mueller’s inquiry “must not be tainted” by the “political biases” of the two FBI officials.
“The Department of Justice’s reputation as an impartial arbiter of justice has been called into question,” the chairman said.
New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the panel’s acting ranking Democrat, shot back that Strzok and Page were free to express their private…