The FBI’s top counterintelligence official told Congress last June that he believed an affair between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page made the two FBI officials vulnerable to foreign intelligence services.
Bill Priestap, the FBI’s assistant director for counterintelligence, told lawmakers in closed-door testimony on June 5, 2018, that he confronted Strzok and Page after hearing rumors that they were having an extramarital relationship.
“But after Pete had been reporting to me for a considerable amount of time, somebody brought to my attention that that behavior might be going on. And so that’s when it — I became aware that that was a possibility,” Priestap said, according to a transcript of his testimony released Tuesday by Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
Priestap, who identified his tipster as either Sally Moyer, a Justice Department lawyer, or Jonathan Moffa, an FBI counterintelligence officer, said that he spoke to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, as well as Strzok and Page, about their affair.
“I felt I owed it to them. Lisa did not report to me, but I felt that they ought to be aware of what was being said. I didn’t ask them if it was true, but they needed to know that that impression was out there,” he said.
“And I don’t remember my exact words. But what I was trying to communicate is this better not interfere with things, if you know what I mean. Like, to me, the mission is everything. And so, we all have our personal lives, what have you. I’m not the morality police.”
“But that behavior would make them vulnerable to an intelligence service?” a congressional staffer asked Priestap.
“In my opinion, yes,” he replied, adding later that “if that was going on that potentially makes them vulnerable.”
As deputy chief of the counterintelligence division, Strzok directed “Crossfire Hurricane,” the code name for the FBI’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian government. Strzok also worked on the special counsel’s investigation, but was removed in late July 2017 after the discovery of anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with Page.
Strzok and Page sent numerous messages deriding Donald Trump. In one message on Aug. 8, 2016, Strzok told Page that “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president. On Aug. 15, 2016, Strzok mentioned discussion earlier that day in McCabe’s office of an “insurance policy” that would be taken out in the event of a Trump election win. (RELATED: Strzok: ‘We’ll Stop’ Trump Presidency)
Priestap told lawmakers that he was not aware of the meeting or the “insurance policy” text message. He said he was surprised that his colleagues would be discussing who might win the 2016 election, especially in the context of an investigation.
Strzok, who was fired from the FBI on Aug. 13, denied in his own congressional testimony that his affair with Page made him vulnerable to recruitment by foreign spies.
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