House GOP chairs: Contents of messages between FBI officials 'extremely troubling'

House GOP chairs: Contents of messages between FBI officials 'extremely troubling'
© Greg Nash

Three GOP House committee chairmen on Monday voiced further concern about possible political bias among top FBI and Justice Department officials, calling private text messages critical of President TrumpDonald John TrumpWSJ: Trump ignored advice to confront Putin over indictments Trump hotel charging Sean Spicer ,000 as book party venue Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE "extremely troubling."

The GOP lawmakers appeared particularly concerned by the FBI's Sunday announcement that it did not have a record of the texts exchanged between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page over a roughly six-month period, due to problems with the bureau-issued cellphones.

"The contents of these text messages between top FBI officials are extremely troubling in terms of when certain key decisions were made by the Department of Justice and the FBI, by whom these decisions were made, and the evident bias exhibited by those in charge of the investigation," read a joint statement from Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteWill Congress ever hold our federal agencies accountable for contempt? Lots of love: Charity tennis match features lawmakers teaming up across the aisle Dems try to end hearing on bias against conservatives in tech MORE (R-Va.), Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyWill Congress ever hold our federal agencies accountable for contempt? Dem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting The Hill's Morning Report — Trump isolated and denounced after Putin meeting MORE (R-S.C.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesOn The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal GOP tax writer introduces bill to reduce capital gains taxes Nunes used political donations for K in NBA tickets, winery tours, Vegas trips: report MORE (R-Calif.). 

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"The omission of text messages between December 2016 and May 2017, a critical gap encompassing the FBI’s Russia investigation, is equally concerning," they wrote.

Their statement comes one day after the FBI sent a letter to lawmakers stating that it was unable to preserve some of the Strzok-Page text messages, which an investigation revealed while Strzok was serving as a member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Strzok has been at the center of attention for GOP lawmakers since the text messages emerged, particularly for his role in investigating Hillary Clinton’s private email server use and whether she properly handled classified material while she was secretary of State.

Mueller removed Strzok from his team upon learning about the text messages.

Nevertheless, Republicans have sought to draw attention to the messages as a sign that the investigation is politically motivated against the president.

The lawmakers indicated that their review of the lengthy back-and-forth records increased their skepticism of some of the officials leading the bureau. 

"Rather than clearing up prior FBI and DOJ actions, these recently produced documents cause us to further question the credibility and objectivity of certain officials at the FBI,” they wrote.

The president and his allies have also described Mueller's Russia investigation, which is looking into ties between Trump campaign aides and Russia, as a "witch hunt."