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Thousands of FBI phones hit by glitch resulting in loss of texts: report

Thousands of mobile phones used by the FBI were impacted by a glitch that resulted in the loss of text exchanges between bureau employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, Fox News reported on Wednesday.

Page and Strzok, who until recently were part of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, have been under intense scrutiny from GOP lawmakers after it was revealed that they exchanged messages critical of President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE — as well as other candidates — ahead of the 2016 election. 

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Strzok was removed from the Russia probe last year, after the text messages were uncovered by a Justice Department inspector general investigation. But Republicans point to the messages as evidence of political bias on Mueller’s team and at the FBI. 

The missing messages have sparked furor among Republicans on Capitol Hill who are demanding answers as to why the bureau did not preserve those from the time period between Dec. 14, 2016, and May 7, 2017. The revelation has also triggered a Justice Department investigation.

The bureau recently told the inspector general that the messages were not preserved as a result of misconfiguration issues related to software upgrades of FBI-provided Samsung 5 mobile phones that conflicted with the bureau’s archiving efforts.

Fox News, citing anonymous law enforcement officials, is now reporting that the glitch affected close to 10 percent of cellphones used by bureau employees. 

The FBI has a workforce of more than 35,000 agents, analysts and other employees.

Justice Department officials are working to recover the lost messages from cellphone carriers and also trying to recover the devices themselves, Fox reported. 

The text messages attracted massive attention when the Justice Department delivered them to members of the House Judiciary Committee in mid-December. The exchanges showed the agents referring to then-candidate Trump as an “idiot,” in addition to other derogatory terms.

On Tuesday, Sens. 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 (R-Wis.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks Trump officials ratchet up drug pricing fight Dems angered by GOP plan to hold judicial hearings in October MORE (R-Iowa), chairmen of the powerful Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary committees, sent a letter to the Justice Department inspector general demanding to know why he only now disclosed the missing text messages. Lawmakers have asked to see exchanges from the period between Nov. 30, 2016, and July 28, 2017.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBeto O'Rourke on impeachment: 'There is enough there to proceed' Rosenstein to appear for House interview next week Emmet Flood steps in as White House counsel following McGahn departure MORE has vowed to “leave no stone unturned” in investigating the issue.