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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 JohnsonGOP senator seeking information on FBI dealings with Bruce Ohr, former DOJ lawyer Election Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms Senate Homeland chair vents Mueller probe is preventing panel from receiving oversight answers 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. 

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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 John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East 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 ClintonBudowsky: Closing message for Democrats Election Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach GOP mocks Clinton after minor vehicle collision outside Mendendez campaign event MORE's private email setup and was later a part of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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.