Top FBI investigator removed from Mueller’s Russia probe

A top FBI investigator, who special counsel Robert Mueller just added to his team to assist with the Russian meddling probe two weeks ago, is no longer on the team, according to ABC News.

Peter Strzok, a highly experienced FBI veteran, headed up the FBI’s counterespionage division last year, and was one of the top investigators in the probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her term as secretary of state. He was also one of the FBI officials who interviewed Clinton.

Suddenly, it is being announced that Strzok has moved to the FBI’s human resources division.

The announcement of Strzok’s departure comes just one week after Mueller’s team issued a search warrant and raided former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s home in Virginia.

On Aug. 3, it was announced that Mueller had expanded his investigation by impaneling a grand jury to collect additional evidence.

Mueller has stacked his investigative panel with many who have supported or donated in the past to the Democratic National Committee, Democratic candidates, or to Hillary Clinton.

It is unclear as to why Strzok left Mueller’s team on the Russian meddling probe. ABC News reported he “has left” the team or has “stepped away.”

However, Business Insider notes it is unclear if he stepped aside voluntarily or not, raising the possibility that he was “moved” to the human resources department.

Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent and associate dean at Yale Law School, said that she had “never heard of an agent being moved to the human resources department.”

“I have seen instances where if some issue comes up, the agent might be moved to another investigation or to the operations center, where you essentially field calls all day,” Rangappa said. “But why he would be moved to HR is just bizarre.”

Rangappa did not want to speculate on what may have happened in Strzok’s case, but said there were many factors — ranging from small administrative violations to more significant incidents — that could raise questions about an agent’s ability to stay on a case.

The New York Times noted that Strzok had previously worked on “some of the most secretive investigations in recent years involving Russian and Chinese espionage.”

Strzok’s move to the Human Resources Division literally means he has now been removed from counterintelligence work completely, according to a former FBI agent who had worked with him for several years in the counterintelligence division.

The agent explained that the FBI sometimes “parks” agents in the HR department when there’s no other place to put them and they need to be quickly reassigned “away from substantive matters.”

The new FBI director, Christopher Wray, would have had a role in reassigning Strzok to the HR department, the agent said.

Business Insider reported that Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent, said she had “never heard of an agent being moved to the human resources department.”

“I have seen instances where if some issue comes up, the agent might be moved to another investigation or to the operations center, where you essentially field calls all day,” Rangappa said. “But why he would be moved to HR is just bizarre.”

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