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Former FBI agent Peter Strzok, ousted from his position after the discovery of text messages containing anti-Trump comments, admitted a dossier on collusion between the president's campaign and Russia during the 2016 election contained information that led officials on a "wild goose chase."
PETER STRZOK SAYS MISTAKES IN FISA APPLICATIONS WERE DUE TO AGENTS BEING 'OVERWORKED'
Strzok told The Atlantic magazine that the dossier, written by former British spy Christopher Steele – one of the agency's key informants in the Russia probe – "was very typical of information that the FBI often receives."
"It comes from several sources, including some suspect sources. Some of it is bull—-, and some of it is rumor, and some of it is disinformation," Strzok said. "From our perspective, some of it was a distraction."
The dossier was later discredited, but not before it was used to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump aide Carter Page, in which FBI officials asserted that Page was an "agent" of Russia.
"It didn’t talk about George Papadopoulos, or much about Paul Manafort or Michael Flynn, or all the things going on in the social media environment, and these were the things we were focused on," Strzok said. "There was a lot about Carter Page, who in the end made up, I think, seven pages of Mueller's whole report. Carter Page was a tiny little slice of this whole huge host of activity."
Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Manafort, who managed Trump's campaign, was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of conspiracy to commit tax fraud and money laundering.
Flynn, who served as Trump's first national security adviser, also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, though he later reversed himself and the Justice Department sought to drop the charges. A federal judge has yet to rule on the matter.
Strzok lamented that the shortcomings of the dossier were used "to try and cast aspersions against the entirety of the FBI’s massive investigation."
"These efforts have been very disingenuous, very distorting and very successful," he said.
Strzok says he believes Trump is "compromised" and "unable to put the interests of our nation first, that he acts from hidden motives, because there is leverage over him, held specifically by the Russians but potentially others as well."
"For example, when he is on the campaign trail saying, 'I have no financial relationships with Russia,' while at the very same time, his lawyer Michael Cohen is in Moscow negotiating a deal for a Trump Tower, there are people who know that. Vladimir Putin knows that. As it happened, the FBI knew it. But nobody in the American public knew it. So the moment that he says it, everybody who knows about that lie has leverage over him," Strzok explained.
Strzok drew notoriety for anti-Trump text messages he sent during an extramarital affair with FBI attorney Lisa Page while employed by the bureau.
He was removed from then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team once those messages were discovered.
A report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Strzok's messages were inappropriate and "cast a cloud over the FBI’s handling" of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
At a congressional hearing in July 2018, Strzok insisted that his political beliefs did not influence his work. The following month, he was fired from the FBI.
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Fox News' Andrew O'Riley contributed to this report.
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