National SecurityPolitics

Forensic Experts Retrieve ‘Ghost Texts’

FBI sources want to know why the bureau said they couldn't be discovered

The Inspector General has recovered the Samsung 5 cellphones of two embattled FBI agents at the center of ongoing Department of Justice and Congressional investigations. The two agents are under scrutiny for their involvement in the Special Counsel’s investigation into President Trump and alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. The DOJ’s Inspector general is now retrieving some of the missing five months of crucial text messages exchanged between the pair of FBI agents using forensic experts to track ‘ghost texts,’ left behind even after they are deleted from the devices, former and current law enforcement officials told this reporter.

The DOJ informed the Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson on Jan. 19, that a “technical glitch” failed to retain the text messages between FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and his colleague FBI attorney Lisa Page from December 2016 and May 2017. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz was also informed by the FBI that the text messages could not be retrieved because of the technical problems that occurred when the bureau switched from the Samsung 5 phones to the Samsung 7 phones. But Horowitz’s investigation last week into the missing text messages led to the request for the cellphones, which allowed the Inspector General’s team the ability to begin retrieving texts.

Attorney General Jeff Session’s revealed last week that Strzok and Page had exchanged more than 50,000 text messages and Congressional committees are investigating whether the apparent bias of the agents against President Trump altered the investigation into the President and his campaign. Strzok and Page were part of the Special Counsel’s office for a short period of time. Strzok, who was involved in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server to send classified information, was removed from his role in the Special Counsel’s Office after the Horowitz uncovered the biased text messages.

“The OIG has been investigating this matter and, this week, succeeded in using forensic tools to recover text messages from the FBI devices, including text messages from Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page that were sent or received between December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017,” DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz stated in a letter to Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs and Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

FBI Headquarters in DC
FBI Headquarters in DC

“We will provide copies of the text messages that we recover from these devices to the Department so that the department’s leadership can take any management action it deems appropriate,” Horowitz wrote.

A former FBI special agent, who worked extensively on counterterrorism related cases, stated they were “dumbfounded” by the FBI’s original excuse that the text messages were irretrievable.

“Even though the servers ‘lost’ the text messages of Strzok they would still be on his actual device, even if he deleted them,” stated the former FBI special agent, who asked to speak on background due to the sensitivity of the case. “That’s how we catch bad guys, we forensically search their phones. Nothing disappears off the device, nothing… unless they take a hammer to it or microwave it. The question is, the FBI knows this, so why did the bureau say they couldn’t retrieve them – why did they mislead Congress.”

FBI spokeswoman Carol Cratty declined to comment on the ongoing inquiry by the DOJ’s Inspector General into the missing text messages.

Page and Strzok both served in Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel Office, which is investigating alleged ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia. Many GOP lawmakers have criticized Mueller’s probe, as evidence emerged of extraordinary bias in the text messages against President Trump and inappropriate conduct between Strzok and Page, who were also having an affair.

This week, the DOJ informed the investigating committees that it wasn’t just Strzok and Page’s phones that were affected but thousands of the Samsung 5 phones, stating that the glitch has been remedied.

In a joint statement House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes stressed their “concern” over the missing texts. “Rather than clearing up prior FBI and DOJ actions, these recently produced documents cause us to further question the credibility and objectivity of certain officials at the FBI.”

A congressional official, familiar with the request for the text messages, said “it is difficult to believe that a crucial five months of text messages would just vanish, we didn’t believe and now we see that we were right. We expect those text messages will be retrieved and shared with members of Congress.”

A former informant for the FBI, who spoke to this reporter, said the FBI was able to do the same with his Samsung 5 telephone registered to Verizon and he questioned why the FBI told the committees the information was not retrievable.

“Their forensic experts who worked on my Samsung 5, which was wiped clean, to retrieve the information they needed,” said the former FBI informant, who asked not to be named. This reporter viewed the documents for the informant’s phone and the permission they gave to the FBI to retrieve the text messages from the phone.

“The FBI forensics team said it would be no problem at all pulling up the missing texts from the phone,” the FBI informant said. “It makes me wonder why they didn’t do that with the two agents phones to begin with and why did they tell the committees they couldn’t retrieve the texts.’

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30 Comments

  1. In a world where true journalism is being stripped of life-giving oxygen each and every day -you are a fresh breath of clean, crisp, fresh air! Please keep doing the amazing work that you are doing Sara Carter! The American People owe you a great debt of gratitude for uncovering all the facts on this story! We appreciate the work you have done and look forward to reading on as you uncover more corruption and abuses by this government.

    Please don’t stop!

  2. I would add that even if only one “ghost text” were recoverable from either device, the remaining texts could be located by querying the FBI servers using a range of record identifiers that includes the record identifier of the one recovered ghost text. In other words, it’s highly unlikely that a configuration issue caused a server to not capture a range of texts for a specified timeframe. It would be more believable if they had said a configuration issue had prevented the server from “ever” capturing any text. Even then, I would find that to be highly suspect. I am thankful that the OIG was able to affirm the recovery of these missing texts. Otherwise, this event would add to the already overwhelming evidence that something was amiss at the FBI.

    On another note, fix your Twitter! You are sorely missed there.

  3. I would like to know why it took a congressional investigation for the inspector general to figure out the texts were missing and then to obtain them from other sources. I thought the ig was supposed to be doing a thorough job. It doesn’t look like it.

  4. Sara, GREAT JOB! Will some people please go to jail over this? At this point I doubt anyone will even lose their job!

  5. Unfortunately, this is a very sad time in our nation’s history. The largest known Coup in American History is being IGNORED by the majority of the media and those in government. This tells us just how corrupt our government and media have become. It’s unforgivable to say the least. Folks like Sara Carter and Sharyl Attkisson are doing their best to keep this nation informed. Sara Carter should receive a medal from President Trump WHEN this corruption can no longer be ignored by America’s Left Wing Media. You’ll know when it’s getting ready to hit the fan. CNN, MSNBC and others will try and lay claim, “Ain’t Happenin”. This CANNOT go unpunished, period.

  6. Whoever commits treasonable acts against the United States of America and her law-abiding citizens shall be guilty as a traitor and high-crimes criminal. Punishment should be hanging until dead in a public gallows for all to see justice that it be done.
    Sara, you are an exceptional reporter. May God bless and protect you.

  7. THAT is a really good report and backed up with great anecdotes. Thanks for being there Sara.

  8. I think a more important question would be if the OIG requested to examine the phones prior to last week?

    And did DOJ/FBI refuse ?

  9. “…Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel Office, which is investigating alleged ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia…”

    Perhaps it’s time to stop describing the Mueller probe in those sterile terms. I think most would agree that’s not what Mueller is doing. He answered that question months ago. A far less charitable, but arguably more accurate description is to call it a headhunting investigation, because that’s what Mueller is doing. This is about intentionally bringing Trump to ruin and hounding him from office. It stopped being about justice a long time ago.

  10. Thank you for doing the real job of a journalist and PLEASE do not take your personal security lightly. These are dangerous people you are exposing.

  11. Now that the FBI has been caught lying to Congress about the so-called missing text messages, when is director Christopher Wray going to resign?

  12. keep up the credible factual work/have not watched msm since donald j trump elected potus/its like watching communist china reruns of mao ze dung history………when on hannity get trump to read memo next week live at sou speech………msm jaws would drop……….also it must come out ahead of mueller witch hunt ……………queen to pawn 4 will be checkmate on bogus russia bs…….good luck /good to see honest warrior of truth.

  13. You are awesome Sara! Thank you for all that you are doing to help our country. Be safe and God bless you!

  14. Sara, you are the life’s breath for our country and the journalism profession. MSM deliberately ignores truth that doesn’t fit their agenda and the MSM watching populace remains ignorant. Your bravery to report the truth is in sharp contrast of the MSM lemmings that deliberately regurgitate the lies of the left. Please ask your sources to press the OIG to seize the phones of ALL members of the “Russia” task force as well as the Clinton “email” investigation, including Mueller, Comey, Lynch, Weinstein, Rosenstein, and of course Clinton herself to examine any communications between each other during the timeframes of interest. Also, what about interviewing off or for-the-record any of the non-political FBI taskforce members that worked on the Clinton emails regarding their beliefs as to any crimes committed? I firmly believe that you, John Solomon and Judicial Watch should be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for journalism for bringing the truth to the light. You are awesome and a heroine for your courage, as well as your outstanding achievements.

  15. Why didn’t it occur to anyone to check the truth of the FBI’s assurances with Samsung ? and why were the FBI so confident that Samsung – or any other ‘phone manufacturer/communications provider – wouldn’t issue a public statement to state that their experts could retrieve the info? How thick are these people ?

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