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 Johnson Sunday shows preview: Leaders weigh in as country erupts in protest over George Floyd death Schumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Comey, Rice, Clapper among GOP senator's targets for subpoenas amid Obama-era probe 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 TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points 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 ClintonTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Van Jones: A 'white, liberal Hillary Clinton supporter' can pose a greater threat to black Americans than the KKK Taylor Swift slams Trump tweet: 'You have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence?' MORE's private email setup and was later a part of 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 meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

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