- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 15, 2018

President Trump is slamming FBI agent Peter Strzok as a “disgrace to our country,” saying the bureau’s “witch hunt” into possible coordination between his 2016 campaign and Russia is hurting the United States.

Mr. Trump said he watched some of Mr. Strzok’s congressional testimony last week and thought it was “a disgrace to our country.”

“I thought it was an absolute disgrace. Where he wants to do things against me before I was even, I guess before I was even the candidate. It was a disgrace. And then he lied about it,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with CBS News, portions of which were released Sunday.

“He was a disgrace to our country. He was a disgrace to the FBI,” Mr. Trump said.

“I think we’re greatly hampered by this whole witch hunt that’s going on in the United States. The Russian witch hunt. The rigged situation,” the president said.

Mr. Strzok, a key figure in the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server who was briefly a part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, answered questions from House lawmakers last week on whether an anti-Trump bias influenced federal investigators’ work.

SEE ALSO: Peter Strzok explains Russia dossier route from Hillary Clinton campaign to FBI

In one text sent in August 2016 to former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom Mr. Strzok had an extramarital affair, Mr. Strzok said “we’ll stop it” when Ms. Page asked if Mr. Trump was ever going to become president.

Mr. Strzok told lawmakers the text was taken out of context and was written late at night, and that he meant the American people wouldn’t elect Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump said he wasn’t buying it.

“He says, ‘Oh, I meant the American people.’ All of a sudden, you know, he came up with excuses,” the president said. “I guess given to a lawyer, but everybody laughed at it.”

“So when I look at things like that and he led that investigation or whatever you call it, I would say that, yeah, I think it hurts our relationship with Russia,” Mr. Trump said. “I actually think it hurts our relationship with a lot of countries. I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on.”

Ahead of Mr. Trump’s Monday summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, the Justice Department last week announced an indictment accusing 12 Russian military officers of stealing Democratic officials’ emails and exploiting them into the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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