A text message exchange between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page is evidence that the FBI was “pulling punches” in its investigation into Hillary Clinton, a top Republican senator is alleging.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, drew attention to a Feb. 25, 2016 text message exchanged between Strzok and Page.
The message was included in seven pages of messages that Grassley released on Thursday. The Justice Department recently provided six congressional committees with 384 pages of text messages between the pair.
As deputy chief of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, Strzok helped lead the Clinton email probe. Page, with whom he was having an affair, is an FBI lawyer who worked directly under Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
In the text message flagged by Grassley, Page suggested that Strzok should not take an aggressive approach to Clinton because of the strong possibility that she would be elected president.
“One more thing: she might be our next president. The last thing you need us going in there loaded for bear. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more doj than fbi?” Page wrote.
Strzok said he agreed with that assessment.
“I called Bill and relayed what we discussed. He agrees. I will email you and [redacted] same.”
“Bill” is likely Bill Priestap, the FBI’s chief of counterintelligence.
In his letter to Wray asking for answers about the texts, Grassley asserted that the message was evidence that the FBI officials were “Pulling Punches in the Clinton Investigation.”
Strzok was the agent who edited then-FBI Director James Comey’s statement exonerating Clinton of any criminal wrongdoing over using a private email server to maintain classified emails.
Strzok removed language from that statement which called Clinton’s actions “grossly negligent” — a term indicating criminal wrongdoing — with the non-legal term, “extremely careless.”
Along with Justice Department attorney David Laufman, Strzok interviewed Clinton as part of the email investigation. He also interviewed top Clinton aides Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and Jake Sullivan. (RELATED: Top Clinton Aides Faced No Punishment After Making Misleading Statements In Interview With Strzok)
Strzok interviewed Sullivan, a top adviser to Clinton at the State Department, two days after his text exchange with Page.
Weeks after the Clinton investigation ended, Strzok was handpicked to lead the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe. As part of that investigation, he interviewed national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Strzok joined Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation in May but was removed in July after the Justice Department’s Inspector General discovered his text messages with Page.
In some of the exchanges, Strzok and Page are seen criticizing Trump.