The missing text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok, who worked briefly as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, and Lisa Page, which whipped up allegations of impropriety and the suggestion that a “secret society” at the FBI was intent on derailing the Trump presidency, have been recovered by the Justice Department Inspector General (IG).
The IG's office “has been investigating this matter, and, this week, succeeded in using forensic tools to recover text messages from FBI devices,” Michael Horowitz wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), that was obtained by The Hill.
The Justice Department had previously said 50,000 text messages between the two agents from mid-December 2016 to mid-May 2017 had not been retained and stored due “to misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI collection capabilities” that also resulted in messages from other agents going missing.
Mueller pulled Stzrok, who had also worked on the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, from the Russia probe after an investigation by the IG revealed texts between the two that criticized and ridiculed Trump. Supporters of President Trump have claimed the previously disclosed texts show a bias that may have tainted Stzrok's work on the Russian probe and calls into question the integrity of the Clinton email investigation.
In one text, Page said to Strzok “Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society.”
Critics of the Mueller probe pointed to those words as evidence that an anti-Trump group was working behind the scenes at the agency exerting its bias, with even the president calling it “one of the biggest stories in a long time” and Johnson initially claiming an informant had confirmed secret meetings to his committee. But Johnson walked back those comments, conceding that the two agents may have simply been joking.
The senator had pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray in a letter for answers regarding the loss of records, including whether the FBI or IG might have any records of the missing texts.
Horowitz told the senators that he will send them copies of the texts.