Trump calls FBI agent's critical text messages 'treason'

Donald Trump accused FBI agent Peter Strzok of “treason” in a Wall Street Journal interview published Thursday. Strzok was pulled from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in December, following the discovery of text messages where Strzok called Trump an “idiot” in an exchange with FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

“A man is tweeting to his lover that if [Hillary Clinton] loses, we’ll essentially do the insurance policy. We’ll go to phase two and we’ll get this guy out of office,”  Trump told the newspaper, presenting his version of Strzok’s text messages.

“This is the FBI we’re talking about — that is treason,” the president said. “That is a treasonous act. What he tweeted to his lover is a treasonous act.”

In a 2016 text, Strzok wrote to Page: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration ... that there’s no way he gets elected. But I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

RELATED: 'Crooked Hillary,' 'Little Marco,' among Trump's favorite nicknames

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'Crooked Hillary,' 'Little Marco,' among Trump's favorite nicknames
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'Crooked Hillary,' 'Little Marco,' among Trump's favorite nicknames

Hillary Clinton

Trump's nickname: "Crooked Hillary"

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Trump's nickname: "Mr. Magoo"

(NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon

Trump's nickname: "Sloppy Steve"

Elizabeth Warren

Trump's nickname: "Pocahontas"

Former FBI director James Comey 

Trump's nickname: "Slippery James Comey"

(Photo by Ralph Alswang/ABC via Getty Images)

Kim Jong Un

Trump's nickname: "Rocket Man"

Chuck Todd 

Trump's nickname: "Sleepy eyes / sleeping son of a b---h"

(NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

Marco Rubio

Trump's nickname: "Little Marco"

Dianne Feinstein

Trump's nickname: "Sneaky Dianne Feinstein"

(Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Trump's nickname: "1 for 38 Kasich"

(REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)

Bob Corker

Trump's nickname: "Liddle' Bob Corker"

NBC correspondent Katy Tur

Trump's nickname: "Little Katy"

(Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Chuck Schumer

Trump's nickname: "Cryin' Chuck / Fake Tears Chuck"

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Trump's nickname: "Jeff Flake(y)"

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)

Trump's nickname: 'Wacky Congresswoman Wilson"

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)

Trump's nickname: "Little Adam Schiff"

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Journalist Megyn Kelly

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Megyn"

(Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images)

The New York Times

Trump's nickname: "Failing New York Times"

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Trump's nickname: "Lyin' Ted"

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski

Trump's nicknames: "Crazy Joe Scarborough/Psycho Joe" and "Dumb as a Rock Mika"

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

Jeb Bush

Trump's nickname: "Low energy Jeb Bush"

(REUTERS/Mike Blake)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Bernie"

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Jim Acosta

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Jim Acosta of Fake News CNN"

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

CNN 

Trump's nickname: "Clinton News Network"

(Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Former Sen. Al Franken

Trump's nickname: "Al Frankenstien"

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Democratic congressional candidate for Pennsylvania's 18th district Conor Lamb

Trump's nickname: "Lamb the sham'

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

'Good Morning America' anchor George Stephanopoulos

Trump's nickname: "Little George"

(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)

Face The Nation

Trump's nickname: "Deface the Nation"

(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Former First Minister of Scotland  Alex Salmond

Trump's nickname: "Mad Alex"

(Photo by Chris Radburn/PA Images via Getty Images)

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Joe Biden"

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Former U.S. President Barack Obama

Trump's nickname: Cheatin’ Obama

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The Wall Street Journal reported in December that Strzok’s “insurance policy” likely referred to an aggressive investigation into possible collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. His intention, the paper said, was to respond to a colleague who believed the agency could relax its investigation since it seemed inevitable that Clinton would win.

Strzok’s lawyer Aitan Goelman told the newspaper that it is “beyond reckless for the president of the United States to accuse Pete Strzok, a man who has devoted his entire adult life to defending this country, of treason. It should surprise no one that the president has both the facts and the law wrong.”

The crime of “treason” is defined in the Constitution as “levying war” against the nation or aiding enemies to hurt the U.S.; criticizing a presidential candidate falls outside these parameters. As David A. Graham of The Atlantic pointed out in December, “While the Justice Department has a clear code of ethics, it does not preclude employees from holding political views or expressing them to acquaintances in their private lives.”

Strzok was also the lead in the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. His texts have been used by Trump and supporters to make a case that the Mueller investigation hasn’t been objective.

Mueller’s office has said that Strzok was removed from the team as soon as the texts surfaced, and that Page had already moved on. Strzok was reassigned within the FBI.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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