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DOJ office says it has found missing text messages of FBI officials

   

Months of missing text messages between two FBI officials have been located, according a letter obtained by The Hill.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz told Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections Overnight Health Care: US buying additional 200M Moderna vaccine doses | CureVac's COVID-19 vaccine failed in preliminary trial results | Grassley meets with House Dems on drug prices Grassley meets with moderate House Democrats on lowering drug prices MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold Johnson14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Senate passes bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday Jon Stewart: Coronavirus 'more than likely caused by science' MORE (R-Wis.) in a letter that the messages spanning from December 2016 to May 2017, previously thought missing due to a technological glitch affecting FBI phones, have been found.

“The [Office of the Inspector General] has been investigating this matter, and, this week, succeeded in using forensic tools to recover text messages from FBI devices,” the letter read.

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The messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page have come under scrutiny primarily by GOP lawmakers who say that they are proof of political bias against President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Carolina Senate passes trio of election measures 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos MORE in the Russia investigations and in the FBI overall. 

The glitch that resulted in their missing messages reportedly affected thousands of FBI phones. In all, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBorder state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos Garland strikes down Trump-era asylum decisions The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from the Biden-Putin summit MORE said at least 50,000 messages were exchanged between Strzok and Page.

Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s investigation into Russian election meddling after anti-Trump messages between him and Page were revealed. Strzok also worked on the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race Hillary Clinton: Casting doubt on 2020 election is 'doing Putin's work' Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE’s use of a private email server.

Trump weighed in on the missing texts in a tweet earlier this week, calling it “one of the biggest stories in a long time.” 

Some GOP lawmakers in recent days have homed in on an exchange in recently recovered texts in which Strzok and Page make reference to a “secret society.” Johnson, one of the senators who has voiced concerns about this exchange, acknowledged Thursday morning the possibility that the “secret society” reference was made in jest.

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“Are you even going to give out your calendars?” Page asked Strzok in one of the messages. “Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society.”

Horowitz wrote in the letter to Johnson and Grassley that his office will provide copies of the recovered texts to the Justice Department, after which leadership can decide how to proceed with distributing the information to Senate committees. Three congressional committees are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Updated at 1:22 p.m.