House Judiciary Democrats want answers on DOJ leaking texts to press
© Greg Nash

Top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the top Justice Department watchdog on Thursday to ask whether the office approved the release of politically-charged text messages shared between FBI employees. 

The letter — sent by ranking Democrats on the Committee Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesHouse chairman: Pompeo not complying with impeachment inquiry Sunday shows - Second whistleblower grabs spotlight Top House Democrat: 'We have Trump appointees who are clearly unnerved by the lawlessness of this president' MORE (N.Y.) and Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinOversight panel to subpoena Trump officials next week over deportation deferrals Democrats plow ahead as Trump seeks to hobble impeachment effort Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Extremists find home on Telegram app | Warren blasts Facebook for not removing anti-Biden ad | California outlaws facial recognition in police body cameras | China rips US tech sanctions MORE (Md.) to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz — asks whether the department consulted with the Inspector General's office before sharing the text messages with the media. 

More than 300 text messages between senior FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok — who was assigned to the bureau's investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election — and in-house attorney Lisa Page that shared anti-Trump political opinions were provided to Congress only after they were provided to the media, the letter says. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had previously said that the messages would not have been shared with the media if the Office of Inspector General did not approve. 

In another letter sent to Sarah Flores, the director of the department's Office of Public Affairs, the Democrats ask if the decision met the department's "ethical and legal standards," as described by a department spokeswoman. 

The letter to Flores also asked who approved her decision to invite the press to view the messages, and to provide the names and outlets of any reporters who viewed the letters.

The Office of Inspector General first flagged the messages in its probe into the handling of the FBI's investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRonan Farrow exposes how the media protect the powerful Kamala Harris to Trump Jr.: 'You wouldn't know a joke if one raised you' Comey says he has a 'fantasy' about deleting his Twitter account after end of Trump term MORE; the flagging led to special counsel Robert Mueller's move to fire Strzok from the Russia investigation.