A senior FBI agent removed from U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation this year referred to Donald Trump before his election as an "idiot," according to e-mails turned over to Congress and seen by U.S. media.
Peter Strzok, a senior counterintelligence investigator who was dismissed from the Russia investigation this summer, referred to Trump as an "idiot" in response to an e-mail from another FBI agent, Lisa Page, in August 2015.
"I just saw my first Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. Made me want to key the car," Page wrote, referring to the left-wing senator who ran against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"He's an idiot like Trump. Figure they cancel each other out," Strzok replied.
In a March 2016 message, Page, who later was also detailed to the Russia investigation, said: "God trump is a loathsome human....omg he's an idiot."
"He's awful," Strzok replied.
Weeks later, on Election Day, as it became clear that Trump could defeat Clinton, Strzok said: "OMG THIS IS [expletive] TERRIFYING: A victory by Mr. Trump remains possible...."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed Strzok from his investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign after becoming aware of the e-mails, officials said.
Page also ended her assignment in Mueller's office by the summer, media reported.
The messages turned up as part of a Justice Department inspector-general investigation into potential political influence on investigative decisions during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Republicans in Congress have cited the e-mails as proof of bias against Trump within the Mueller investigative team.
The issue is likely to be discussed at a congressional hearing on December 13 involving Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in May and oversees the special counsel's work.