“This is not funny. This is a U.S. senator and he is claiming that there’s a secret society within the FBI to take down the president of the United States,” Ali Soufan told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Thursday.
 
“He went on television, telling that to the American people. He needs to go on TV again and he needs to apologize.” 
 
Johnson stoked concerns during a Fox News interview Tuesday night when he said he had been working with a whistleblower who told him about “off-site” meetings of FBI and Justice Department officials, linking them to a text message between former FBI agents referring to a “secret society”. 
 
Johnson appeared to walk back his claims later in the week, saying he has not been able to confirm the off-site meetings and noting that the “secret society” reference may have been a joke. 
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“This is pathetic,” Soufan told CNN. “It can be comic if it’s not tragically dangerous.”
 
Soufan, who worked at the agency for 10 years as a supervisory special agent, said it’s dangerous for lawmakers to peddle theories about law enforcement officials. 
 
“He’s a demagogue,” Soufan said of Johnson. “He’s a partisan. He’s putting partisanship above country. And that is very, very dangerous.” 
 
GOP lawmakers have highlighted the phrase “secret society” in text messages between former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page right after the 2016 election. Republicans and Democrats alike have said they don’t know what the phrase means and that it could have been an inside joke.
 
Some GOP officials have suggested that FBI and Justice Department employees were part of a covert “deep state” effort to undermine Trump. 
 
Strzok was removed last year from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal MORE’s investigation into allegations of Russian collusion in the Trump campaign after the text messages were uncovered.