Two more government officials have resigned this week in relation to text messages exchanged between two FBI agents.
The inspector general for the Department of Justice has been conducting an investigation into the actions of the FBI as they relate to the Hillary Clinton email scandal. In the course of that investigation text messages between two FBI agents, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, indicating a bias against Donald Trump, have become public. The text messages continue to implicate other members of the FBI and DOJ – and those members keep departing their posts.
The IG’s report is expected to be concluded by either March or April of this year. But Inspector General Michael Horowitz has already briefed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the findings. Last month something Wray learned of the investigation led him to effectively try to demote FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe chose to step down from his post instead.
This week, Mike Kortan, FBI assistant director for public affairs, and David Laufman chief of the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, have both announced their departures from their agencies. Both men had been cited in text-message exchanges between Strzok and Page.
“Kortan majorly screwed up,” read one message from Page in April 2016. “I am getting aggravated at Laufman,” wrote Strzok in March 2016.
Kortan had told colleagues for months that he was contemplating retirement. It’s unclear whether the immediacy of his departure is related to recent events or the Horowitz investigation.
Luafman’s resignation is more sudden. He has served as the Justice Department’s top official overseeing espionage investigations, as well as foreign-lobbying and classified-leak investigations since 2014 – a post that would have put him in charge of the Clinton email investigation. Laufman has told colleagues he is leaving for personal reasons.
In addition to McCabe, Kortan and Laufman, former FBI Director James Comey’s chief of staff James Rybicki left the bureau last month, and FBI General Counsel James Baker, also a long-time associate of Comey’s was reassigned in December.