Embattled agent Peter Strzok escorted from FBI headquarters

An FBI agent who has been pilloried by President Donald Trump and was sharply criticized in a new Justice Department watchdog report was escorted from the FBI building Friday as a disciplinary process plays out, a source familiar with the episode said.

Peter Strzok was removed last August from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian contacts with the Trump campaign after Justice's inspector general found stridently anti-Trump text messages Strzok exchanged with an FBI attorney, Lisa Page.

And FBI officials confirmed last year that Strzok, a veteran agent who served as deputy assistant director of the bureau's counterintelligence division, was reassigned to a job in the FBI's human resources division. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday on what type of disciplinary action is underway or why Strzok was removed from the building.

Strzok's attorney Aitan Goelman said the incident was just the latest in a string of humiliating episodes the long-serving civil servant has had to endure.

"Despite being put through a highly questionable process, Pete has complied with every FBI procedure, including being escorted from the building as part of the ongoing internal proceedings," Goelman said in a statement.

A source briefed on the development said Strzok was escorted out Friday. Goelman did not immediately respond to a question about the timing, but he did complain that Strzok is the victim of leaks that raise doubts about the fairness of the FBI's handling of his case.

"Pete has steadfastly played by the rules and respected the process, and yet he continues to be the target of unfounded personal attacks, political games and inappropriate information leaks," Goelman said.

Strzok's removal from the building occurred one day after the inspector general released a report that examined, in part, whether the agent's political opinions affected his work on the bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email use as secretary of state. While the report detailed Strzok's "biased state of mind," it concluded that these views did not ultimately affect the ultimate conclusions in the Clinton probe. The IG is now examining whether Strzok's beliefs played an unwarranted role in launching the Trump-Russia probe.

The episode also came four days before House and Senate hearings on DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report, which more broadly addressed alleged FBI misconduct in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election. Horowitz's report revealed new texts sent by Strzok, including one in which he appeared to vow to head off Trump's election.

Asked by Page in August 2016 if Trump would become president, Strzok replied: "No. No he won't. We'll stop it."

Trump has trumpeted the finding, asking on Twitter why "the FBI’s sick loser, Peter Strzok," had worked on Mueller's team after "giving Crooked Hillary a free pass."

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have also denounced the messages, and Horowitz said they raised doubts about the fairness of the FBI's investigative actions prior to the election.

At the hearings Monday and Tuesday, Strzok was a punching bag of sorts, as Republican lawmakers repeatedly excoriated the agent as a corrupting influence in the FBI's investigations of Clinton and the Trump campaign.

Goelman has rejected the criticism as politically motivated, arguing that Strzok never acted on his personal views.

"Instead of publicly calling for a long-serving FBI agent to be summarily fired, politicians should allow the disciplinary process to play out free from political pressure," Goelman said.

House Republicans have also threatened to subpoena Strzok, but Goelman said the FBI vet is willing to testify voluntarily.

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