The Justice Department is rejecting accusations that it inappropriately offered several reporters access to private communications between two FBI officials who later worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s team.
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“Senior career ethics advisors determined that there were no legal or ethical concerns that prohibited the release of the information to the public either by members of Congress or by the department,” the Justice Department said in a statement today.
During a House hearing on Wednesday, Democrats raised concerns over the public disclosure of the messages, which were sent last year between FBI attorney Lisa Page and FBI agent Peter Strzok and document them repeatedly mocking then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in harsh terms.
In what one Democrat suggested was an “extraordinary” move on the eve of the House Judiciary Committee hearing, the Justice Department “invited a group of reporters to its offices to view the private text messages,” as Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, put it.
At the hearing the next day, Republicans then used the newly-released messages to push allegations of political bias within the FBI and the sprawling probe by Mueller, who is looking at whether Trump associates tried to help Russia influence last year’s presidential election and whether White House officials may have sought to obstruct the investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein dismissed suggestions that Mueller or his probe were tainted, insisting there is nobody “better qualified for this job” and noting “political affiliation” is not the same as political “bias.”
“I’ve discussed this with Director Mueller, and … we recognize we have employees with political opinions. It’s our responsibility to make sure those opinions do not influence their actions,” Rosenstein told…