Federal officials “failed to preserve” text messages from two FBI executives who were virulently opposed to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump during a key five-month period of the 2016 presidential campaign. That’s according to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson.
Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were both involved in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of allegations that Trump colluded with Russians to defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Strzok also participated in the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server and address to conduct official U.S. diplomatic business while she was secretary of state under President Barack Obama.
Johnson said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray the committee obtained 384 new pages of Strzok-Page texts, according to The Washington Post.
"The loss of records from this period is concerning," Johnson wrote — wondering why the FBI "did not preserve text messages between Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok between approximately December 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017," The Post reported.
That latter day — May 17, 2017 — was the day Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as head of the investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government or elements linked to it.
Stephen Boyd, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs at the Justice Department, wrote a letter to Johnson on Friday in which he notified the committee of the missing text messages.
"The department wants to bring to your attention that the FBI's technical system for retaining text messages sent and received on FBI mobile devices failed to preserve text messages for Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page," Boyd wrote, according to The Daily Caller.
"The result was that data that should have been automatically collected and retained for long-term storage and retrieval was not collected," Boyd wrote, pointing to "misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI's collection capabilities."
According to the text messages revealed earlier, Strzok called Trump "an idiot" in a message to Page. In a later text, he wrote, "I want to believe the path u threw out 4 consideration in [Andrew McCabe's] office — that there's no way [Trump] gets elected — but I'm afraid we can't take that risk."
Page told Strzok in a text message, "Maybe you're meant to stay where you are because you're meant to protect the country from that menace." Strzok told Page there was significant "pressure" to conclude the Clinton investigation after Trump won the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
The text messages between the two former Mueller staffers incensed many Republicans — who cited them as evidence that the Justice Department's investigations into both Trump and Clinton were tainted.
Although the new batch of text messages hasn't yet been revealed publicly, the Associated Press noted Strzok and Page expressed "displeasure about the timing of [former Attorney General Loretta] Lynch's announcement that she would defer to the FBI's judgment on the Clinton investigation."
"Strzok said in a July 1 text message that the timing of Lynch's announcement 'looks like hell,'" AP reported. "And Page appears to mockingly refer to Lynch's decision to accept the FBI's conclusion in the case as a 'real profile in courag(e) since she knows no charges will be brought.'"
Last Modified: January 21, 2018, 9:20 pm