Text Messages Question the Start of the ‘Russia Collusion’ Investigation
Newly-released text messages from former FBI agent Peter Strzok suggest that the FBI began investigating then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and his campaign for the alleged Russia collusion earlier than the government previously acknowledged.
The FBI claims that investigations into Trump’s campaign began on July 31, 2016. The declassified text messages, released by Republican Senators Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley on Wednesday, show communications between Strzok and his alleged mistress, FBI special counsel Lisa Page. Strzok asked Page to discuss “[o]ur open C[counter-]I[ntelligence] investigations relating to Trump’s Russian connections” with him on July 28, 2016.
Former FBI Director James Comey denied knowledge of the investigation, saying he first learned of the Steele dossier “sometime towards the end of September 2016.”
The new Strzok texts also reveal that journalist Carl Bernstein, who helped expose the Watergate scandal in the 1970s and appears regularly on CNN, told the FBI that he received the “dossier” from Sen. John McCain.
According to the released messages, Strzok texted Page, “Carl Bernstein (yes that Carl) called [Office of Public Affairs], said he got a ‘dossier’ from McCain.”
Page replied, “Awesome, let Carl run it down then.”
The dossier included allegations about Donald Trump and members of the Trump campaign and was funded in part by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The FBI found that most of the allegations could not be corroborated and that certain allegations were inaccurate or inconsistent with information gathered by the Crossfire Hurricane team.
The dossier became a key piece of intelligence during the ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ FBI probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.
On Thursday, Trump called McCain, “One of the most overrated people in D.C.”
Other newly-released text messages give more information into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Strzok was aware that there were “27 confirmed classified TOTAL (26 to ClintonEmail, 1 to Yahoo): -6 of the 27 were SECRET then (4 of which remain SECRET now and 2 of which are CONFIDENTIAL) – 21 of the 27 were CONFIDENTIAL then (16 of which remain CONFIDENTIAL now and 5 of which are UNCLASS or FOUO)” on Clinton’s private email server.