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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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Republicans: Supreme Court won't toss ObamaCare Barrett sidesteps Democratic questions amid high-stakes grilling MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 Cuomo signs legislation declaring Juneteenth an official holiday in New York Trailing in polls, Trump campaign resurrects Hunter Biden attacks 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 John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally 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 SessionsHarris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House The Memo: Team Trump looks to Pence to steady ship in VP debate MORE said at least 50,000 messages were exchanged between Strzok and Page.

Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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 ClintonTrump jokingly blames 'Crooked Hillary' after his rally mic stops working The Hill's Campaign Report: Two weeks to the election l Biden leads in new polls as debate looms l Trump pressures DOJ on Hunter Biden Trump remarks put pressure on Barr 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.