Newly released text messages between a pair of FBI anti-Trump officials at the center of the Russia investigation controversy show that they sought to “get around” rules established by the government to preserve text messages, stating that none of the agencies abide by the rules then “why should we.”
Former FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page discussed getting new Apple iPhones, in lieu of their Samsung 5 government issued phones in text messages they exchanged in August 2016. They noted in the texts that the new phones would help keep their text messages from government collection after speaking with the FBI’s IT director, according to newly released August 2016 text messages.
“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,” stated Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, in a letter dated Jan. 31, to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “Additional text messages suggest that FBI officials used non-official email accounts and messaging programs to communicate about official business.”
Here’s a portion of the text messages:
Strzok: “Hot damn. I’m happy to pilot that…we get around our security/monitoring issues?”
Page: “No, he’s proposing that we just stop following them. Apparently, the requirement to capture texts came from omb, but we’re the only org (I’m told) who is following that rule. His point is, if no one else is doing it why should we.”
Page: Helps that Dd had a terrible time with his phone [redacted] which made him concerned for our folks all over the place.
Page: These phones suck as much as they do because of the program we use to capture texts, full stop.
Strzok: No doubt.
Strzok: I’m not convinced short of OPR, that text capture capability really deters anything.
Strzok: If I want to copy/take classified, I’m sure as hell not going to do it on this phone.
In the above text messages, Strzok’s reference to “Dd” is possibly referring to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, per Johnson’s letter’s footnote.
Strzok was removed from his role in Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office after the text messages were obtained by DOJ’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigation. He is now in the FBI’s Human Resources department. Page is no longer with the Special Counsel’s office but remains employed at the FBI.
The committee is investigating the full context of the text messages and asking Rosenstein to provide answers, according to the letter.
A number of congressional committees are investigating Page and Strzok’s involvement in the bureau’s investigation into former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to send classified information. Intelligence agencies believed Clinton’s communications were intercepted by foreign state actors.