DOJ Admits It Failed to Save Crucial Texts Between Anti-Trump Agents as House Moves to ‘Release the Memo’
Update: Attorney General Jeff Sessions revealed Monday that Peter Strzok and Lisa Page exchanged more than 50,000 texts during the 2016 election. He also vowed in a statement to leave “no stone unturned” to determine what happened to the additional texts the FBI failed to retain for the period December 14, 2017 to May 17, 2017. Said Sessions:
We will leave no stone unturned to confirm with certainty why these text messages are not now available to be produced and will use every technology available to determine whether the missing messages are recoverable from another source. If we are successful, we will update the congressional committees immediately.
The House Intelligence committee has begun the process of releasing an explosive, controversial and classified memo reportedly outlining a disturbing abuse of power by the Obama Justice Department and FBI to sabotage the campaign and presidency of Donald Trump. This comes as the DOJ admits the FBI “failed to preserve” five months worth of text messages between two key figures at the center of those allegations.
Rep. Steve King has said the findings in the memo are “worse than Watergate.” With the FBI’s admitting they lost crucial evidence, expect the Watergate comparisons to grow even louder.
“Failed to Preserve”
The lost texts went between then deputy chief of counter-intelligence Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Earlier texts between the lovers revealed not only their contempt for Trump, but discussed an “insurance policy” to undermine him if elected. As the Daily Caller reported:
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok wrote in a cryptic text message to Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer and his mistress.
“It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” Strzok wrote in the text, dated Aug. 15, 2016.
Andy is likely Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Trump, indeed was elected. The missing Strzok-Page texts cover the crucial period from December 14, 2016 to May 17, 2017. In December, the Trump-Russia collusion meme was rearing its ugly head. Trump associates were getting unmasked, intelligence was being leaked on Capitol Hill and in the media, based on the unverified Fusion GPS dossier. The effort to delegitimize the election was underway. Was this the “insurance policy”?
Curiously, May 17th is the day is Robert Mueller was named Special Counsel in the Trump Russia probe. Strzok and Page were made part of Mueller’s team. They were again in position to act against Trump. And now their texts from the crucial period are gone. Convenient.
This Bombshell Memo
DOJ revealed this bombshell in a letter Thursday to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (SHSGAC). And their excuse is a doozy. The failure to preserve the texts (as required by law) was due to “misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.”
Echos of Richard Nixon’s erased 18 minutes of tape. A 21st century high-tech version of Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods claiming she accidentally erased 18 minutes of crucial Oval Office recordings of Nixon discussing the Watergate cover-up.
In a letter to FBI director Christopher Wray, SHSGAC chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis) expressed concerns over the missing evidence. According to The Hill, Johnson asked Wray to explain the scope of the missing texts. He also asked if the FBI searched any non-FBI phones used by Strzok and Page during this time. (He might also want to ask if a deputy chief of counter-intelligence would know how to “misconfigure” phone software.)
Johnson’s not the only one concerned. North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows tweeted:
Unreal. We've been asking for the remaining text messages between anti-Trump FBI agents (and former Mueller team members), Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The FBI now says the texts are "missing."
If it wasn't already clear we need a second special counsel, it's abundantly clear now https://t.co/nvpNY4s4QV
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 22, 2018
Meanwhile, additional texts between Strzok and Page were discovered. They suggest that contrary to her claims, Loretta Lynch knew Comey would let Hillary Clinton skate. They also suggest there was pressure to wrap up the Clinton investigation once it became clear Donald Trump would be the GOP nominee. The Stream will have more on this story to come.
“Release the Memo”
Also over the weekend, Rep. Dave Joyce said the House Intelligence Committee “plans to begin” the process to release the committee’s four-page classified memo outlining the Obama administration’s surveillance abuses. He thinks the process would take 19 working days.
Great news! Our efforts to #ReleaseTheMemo have been effective and the HPSIC plans to begin the process to release the FBI/FISA/Russia memo. This may take up to 19+ Congressional work days but Americans deserve to know the truth.
— Dave Joyce (@RepDaveJoyce) January 20, 2018
Rep. Jim Jordan doesn’t think it’d take that long. According to House rules, the House Intelligence Committee can vote to make the memo public. The President would then have five days to come up with a reason to block its release. If he blocks it, the full House can override the President.
On Friday, 65 representatives urged the memo’s release. Only House members are able to read the memo in a secure room on Capitol Hill. Even Sen. Rand Paul, who’s been vocal about the misuse of intelligence gathering tools, was not allowed to see it. Thus far, reportedly only one Democrat not on the House Intelligence Committee has bothered to read the memo.
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee vehemently opposes the American people seeing the memo. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Cal.) calls it a “set of talking points Republican Intel staffers drafted.” When asked by CNN why not let the American people judge for themselves, Schiff said, “because the American people unfortunately don’t have the underlying materials and therefore they can’t see how distorted and misleading this document is.”
The Flaws in the Argument
The flaws in the argument are obvious.
First, it shows a mistrust of the American people to recognize whether something is “spin” or not.
Second, Schiff can offer a rebuttal.
Third, misuse of the FISA courts by the Obama administration is already a matter of record. A barely reported-on court finding from April 2017 reveals the government admitting in 2016 there was “significant non-compliance with the NSA’s minimization procedures involving queries of data acquired under Section 702 using U.S. person identifiers.” Translation: They were spying on Americans. The only question is who and for what political end.
Finally, those who’ve read the House memo are using words like “sickening,” “deeply troubling,” “jaw-dropping.” Rep. Scott Perry said of the memo: “You think about, ‘is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’ That’s how alarming it is.” Rep. Mark Meadows said, ““Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.” Rep. Matt Gaetz said, “I think that this will not end just with firings. I believe there are people who will go to jail.” If these elected officials are lying about the seriousness of the matter, they’re going to look awfully foolish.
Now five months worth of text messages between two of the key actors in the drama have turned up missing. Surely even a partisan like Schiff has to admit the time has come for the truth … the whole truth … and nothing but the truth.