GOP senator: 'Real possibility' that FBI 'secret society' text was a joke

GOP senator: 'Real possibility' that FBI 'secret society' text was a joke
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSunday shows - Cheney removal, CDC guidance reverberate Ron Johnson calls cyber attacks an 'existential' threat following Colonial Pipeline shutdown All congressional Democrats say they have been vaccinated: CNN MORE on Thursday acknowledged that "it's a real possibility" that a reference to a "secret society" in a text message exchange between two FBI officials was made in jest. 

The Wisconsin Republican told CNN and ABC News that it was possible that there is no "secret society" amid an uproar from GOP officials about the possible "deep state" cabal. 


Some Republican lawmakers have floated the notion in recent days that FBI and Justice Department officials may have formed a clandestine group that held meetings in which they plotted to undercut President TrumpDonald TrumpFranklin Graham says Trump comeback would 'be a very tough thing to do' Man suspected in wife's disappearance accused of casting her ballot for Trump Stefanik: Cheney is 'looking backwards' MORE

That notion stems from text messages exchanged between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI officials who have come under scrutiny in recent months for harboring what some Republicans have deemed an anti-Trump bias. 

Johnson stoked speculation on Tuesday, when he claimed in an interview on Fox News that he had been in contact with a whistleblower with knowledge of "off-site" meetings between FBI and Justice Department officials. He acknowledged on Wednesday, however, that he did not know what had been said in the alleged meetings.

Republicans have voiced concern about the text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page during the 2016 presidential race, because Strzok had worked on the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCongress won't end the wars, so states must Democrats say it's up to GOP to stop Trump 2024 Hillary Clinton to speak at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders summit MORE's private email setup and was later a part of 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 meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Strzok was removed from the probe last summer after the Justice Department became aware of the text messages.