The Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz informed lawmakers Thursday that he has found the missing five months of text messages between senior FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that the DOJ said were lost due to a technical glitch.
In a letter to Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Horowitz wrote:
The OIG has been investigating this matter and, this week, succeeded in using forensic tools to recover text messages from FBI devices, including text messages between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page that were sent or received between December 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017.
That time period covered a number of significant developments in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump Russia allegations and the lead-up to the special counsel, which was convened on May 17, 2017.
The DOJ last Friday informed lawmakers that it had lost text messages between Strzok and Page during that time due to the technical glitch, and unnamed federal law enforcement officials told Fox News that those glitches had affected nearly 10 percent of the FBI’s 35,000 employees.
Horowitz said the effort to recover any additional text messages is ongoing.
The DOJ’s announcement to Congress from Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd that it lost text messages during that time period raised alarm bells across the nation.
Strzok and Page — two senior FBI officials who played major roles on the Clinton email investigation and the FBI’s initial investigation into the Trump campaign and the subsequent special counsel, have come under intense scrutiny for sending hundreds of anti-Trump text messages while they were working on these investigations.
The two texted about an “insurance plan” in the case of Trump’s election. They also texted about a “secret society” within the senior levels of the FBI. They also discussed the pros and cons of joining the special counsel, during which Strzok said he was hesitating to join because his gut sense was there’s “no big there there.”
The DOJ inspector general first discovered the text messages while investigating whether political bias among senior levels of the FBI impacted the Clinton email investigation or the Trump Russia investigation. He turned over the text messages to the DOJ, who informed Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Page had left the team by then, but Mueller removed Strzok over the text messages.
The DOJ has provided some of the text messages to lawmakers, pursuant to requests.