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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 TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA 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 GoodlatteProgressive group targets GOP moderates on immigration Florida shooting reopens CDC gun research debate Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE (R-Va.), Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand GOP lawmakers: Obama admin ‘hastily’ wrote lead ammunition ban MORE (R-S.C.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesFive key takeaways from the Russian indictments Shepard Smith: New Mueller indictments prove Russia probe is 'opposite of a hoax' Schiff: 'We're very close to reaching an agreement' with FBI on countermemo 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."