In today’s hyperpartisan environment, Strzok’s defense may sound hard to believe, but it’s perfectly plausible. As a former prosecutor of public corruption cases, I’ve worked with many FBI agents and prosecutors who had personal political views but did not allow those views to affect their work. That’s an essential part of being a good investigator.
But what about Strzok’s “We’ll stop it” text message? Most have assumed that “we” means the FBI. But it’s at least as likely that Strzok, in a personal message to his girlfriend, was referring to we the voters, or we the American people. That would have been an unremarkable sentiment shared by about half the people in the country, who could not believe that Trump would ever be elected. It’s quite a leap to go from that text message to a claim that Strzok tried to use his official powers to tip the election.
And there’s no evidence that he did. The inspector general concluded the text messages suggested possible bias and “cast a cloud” over the FBI. But the IG also found no evidence that “these political views directly affected the specific investigative decisions that we reviewed.” The problems found by the IG were problems of appearance, not substance.