Text messages between a pair of controversial FBI agents, reveal that the couple frequently used their private iMessage apps to discuss work and in one case texted about transmitting classified information on the unsecure chat medium, according to the troves of newly released texts last week.
FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and his mistress FBI attorney Lisa Page are at the center of a growing controversy surrounding the investigation into former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server and Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s investigation into alleged Russia collusion on the part of the Trump campaign.
Strzok and Page discussed using their ‘imsgs’ 37 times in their text messages obtained by the Congressional committees from the agents’ Samsung government-issued phones. The two sent numerous anti-Trump text messages and both were involved in the Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation. Strzok, who is now with the FBI’s Human Resource department, was removed from the special counsel’s office after the DOJ discovered the text messages he shared with Page. Page is no longer on the Special Counsel but still employed by the FBI.
House Judiciary member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who has been a stalwart supporter of the investigations by Congress and DOJ into the FBI said transparency is key.
“We should see their iMessages, as well,” said Jordan, who clarified that he didn’t know whether or not Horowitz had obtained them. “Bottom line is as much transparency as possible is necessary in this investigation and for the American people. That’s why I think it’s necessary that the FISA (warrant) applications be disclosed.”
John Lavinsky, spokesman for the DOJ’s office of Inspector General said he could not comment about the ongoing investigation or whether the Inspector General has obtained the private iMessages exchanged between the pair of FBI agents.
Fox News reported last week that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., to Judge Rosemary Collyer, who presides over the secret court, and requested the transcripts of “any relevant FISC hearings associated with the initial FISA application or subsequent renewals related to the electronic surveillance of Carter Page.”
In the January 15, 2016 text messages below, Page discusses with Strzok what is known in the intelligence community as a “single source,” information which in the intelligence community is considered a highly classified and protected source. Additionally, the two agents discuss talking about the “single source” through their unsecure iMessage app. Sending texts through iMessage, a chat service provided by Apple Inc., was again a point of discussion between the two in the text messages dated later in the year August 2016. In those August 2016 text messages, the agents said using the Apple iPhones would help keep their text messages from government collection after speaking with the FBI’s IT director, as reported earlier.
The government-issued Samsung phones are also not considered secure lines to send classified information. The text messages retrieved from the duo’s work phones cover a time span from the fall of 2015 to the summer of 2017. However, the batch does not include the nearly five months of text messages from Dec. 4, 2016 to May 18, 2017 that the FBI originally told Congress had disappeared due to a “technical glitch.” The DOJ’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz, whose investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton private server is expected to be released in mid-March, according to the DOJ’s Inspector General. Several weeks ago Horowitz notified Congress that his team is now recovering the missing texts from the agent’s phones.
In the recently released texts, the Department of Justice redacted part of the conversation related to the “single source” Page is discussing with Strzok on January 15, 2016.
Lisa Page: And oh holy sh*t, l forgot l had huge single source reporting that l was going to mention in the car!” Remind me, though it may have to wait until this afternoon.
Peter Stzrok: Ooh. Can you imsg it? i will tell you what l was going to imsg, scrambling to get out the door right now. And yeah, t thought about that with D. Don’t know ifit will travel that fast.
Lisa Page: Nope, too much detail, better to tell. But it involves [redacted…].
FBI spokeswoman Carol Cratty could not be immediately reached for comment.
A former FBI official, who recently worked on counterintelligence investigations, said “there is no single source reporting in the U.S. government that is unclassified.”
“Single source reporting is the government’s most prized possession that the government has and great lengths are taken to protect single source reporting – most importantly classification and secure handling procedures. For Strzok and Page to be using iMessage to communicate single source reporting is grossly negligent and exceptionally dangerous to that single source.”
“It can’t just be their issued government phones but criminal subpoenas for their personal phones is necessary,” the former FBI official stated.
“They are either hiding information or discussing classified information on an unclassified system they deem to be more secure than their classified system – not from foreign governments but from U.S. oversight,” said another former FBI official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the current nature of their work. “The investigation has to include their personal cell phones and emails, otherwise it would be incomplete.”
According to several government officials, the scope of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigation into the FBI’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information would likely go beyond just the collection of government issued cell phones and emails. Horowitz’s investigation, which quietly began last January, is expected to wrap up by mid-March. He has interviewed dozens of witnesses, including now removed FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Director James Comey, FBI agent Strzok, FBI lawyer Page and other current and former FBI officials.
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, sent a letter Jan. 31, to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein saying that “according to text messages produced by the committee, Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok make references to communicating with other FBI employees via text message, phone call, email, and voice mail. Additional text messages suggest that FBI officials used non-official email accounts and messaging programs to communicate about official business.”
DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said she could not comment on ongoing investigations.
The investigations, both congressional and Horowitz’s investigation, have resulted in a string of firing and demotions at the FBI and DOJ. Roughly six top officials at both agencies have either been asked to retire or have been moved out of their roles.
The DOJ also has 27 ongoing leak investigations, including the leak to the Washington Post of a highly classified telephone conversation of former National Security Advisor Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn pled guilty to one count of lying to the FBI but questions about the interview with FBI have also taken center stage in Congressional investigations. Strzok, whose credibility has now come into question, was one of two FBI officials who questioned Flynn.