Sessions: ‘No Stone Unturned’ To Find FBI Agents’ Missing Text Messages
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that the Justice Department “will leave no stone unturned” in trying to figure out how the FBI lost five months of text messages exchanged between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the FBI agents who exchanged anti-Trump messages while working on the Clinton and Trump investigations.
“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,” Sessions said in a statement. (RELATED: FBI ‘Failed To Preserve’ Five Months Of FBI Agents’ Texts)
On Friday, the Justice Department informed six congressional committees that the FBI “failed to preserve” texts exchanged between Strzok and Page for the period between Dec. 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017.
Stephen Boyd, the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, told the committees that “misconfiguration issues” on “many” FBI-issued Samsung 5 phones “conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.”
“The result was that data that should have been automatically collected and retained for long-term storage and retrieval was not collected,” he said.
That gap in the text messages covers a crucial time period in the Russia investigation, which both Strzok and Page worked on.
During that span, the infamous Steele dossier was published by BuzzFeed News, Strzok interviewed Michael Flynn who was fired shortly after, James Comey was fired as FBI director and Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel.
The pair, who were having an affair, also worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia team. Page left in July 2016 before the Justice Department’s inspector general discovered her anti-Trump exchanges with Strzok. Strzok was removed from the Russia investigaiton after the inspector general shared the text messages with Mueller.
The inspector general, Michael Horowitz, was looking into Strzok and Page’s texts as part of an investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe. Strzok was a top investigator on that inquiry.
In the letter to the committees, which was provided to The Daily Caller on Monday, Boyd offered up a timeline of Strzok and Page’s phone misconfiguration issues.
He told the committees that Strzok’s phone made its last connection to the FBI’s storage system on June 18, 2016. Page’s phone connected last on Dec. 13, 2016. Strzok did not connect back to the storage system until July 5, 2017, when he received a newer Samsung. Page received a Samsung 7 on May 17, allowing her to connect to the bureau’s storage system.
Boyd said that the inspector general “pieced together” Strzok and Page’s exchanges for the period June 18, 2016 to Dec. 13, 2016. After that point and for the next five months, neither officials’ phones connected to the FBI’s storage system.
The letter does not describe how many other FBI agents and officials had connectivity and storage problems. He also did not say whether the FBI still has Strzok and Page’s cell phones. The FBI declined to respond to those questions from TheDC.
In his statement, Sessions said he has spoken to IG Horowitz about the five month text message gap.
“I have spoken to the Inspector General and a review is already underway to ascertain what occurred and to determine if these records can be recovered in any other way,” Sessions said.
“If any wrongdoing were to be found to have caused this gap, appropriate legal disciplinary action measures will be taken.”
In addition to letters to Congress, Boyd provided 384 pages of text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page. Last month, the Justice Department released 375 individual messages to several committees.
The messages made available to Congress include numerous exchanges suggesting strong bias against Trump as well as some support for Clinton.
In one text, Strzok refers to Trump as an “idiot” and mocks Trump supporters.
In one troubling text, dated Aug. 15, 2016, Strzok referred to an “insurance policy” that the FBI should take out in the event of a Trump election win.
And in a May 4, 2016 text message published by the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Sunday, Strzok said that there would be “pressure” to end the Clinton email investigation because of Trump’s surge in the Republican presidential primaries.