In a long-awaited report, the Justice Department’s inspector general concluded that the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation was not influenced by political bias, and that any hostility certain officials may have felt toward then-candidate Donald Trump didn’t affect their handling of that probe.
But for Trump and his allies, that may not matter: While the overarching report undercut key parts of their conspiracy theories around the email probe, they’ve seized on one finding to fuel unfounded suspicions of a “deep state” scheme to undermine Trump’s candidacy. By focusing on this one aspect of the report, they’re able to keep arguing that the FBI has had it in for Trump from the start—no matter what the IG says.
Trump allies have homed in on a text-message exchange between two FBI officials that was revealed for the first time in the report. In the messages, FBI agent Peter Strzok told former FBI lawyer Lisa Page that “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president. “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Page wrote to Strzok in August 2016, according to copies of their texts that were included in the report. “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok replied. At the time, both were working on the investigation into Russia’s election interference, and Strzok would later join Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Both had also worked on the Clinton email probe.