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 (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' 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 TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' 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 JohnsonDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens Former Bush aide defends Vindman, criticizes GOP congressmen for 'defaming' him Bipartisan senators urge national security adviser to appoint 5G coordinator MORE (R-Wis.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul Top GOP senator: Drug pricing action unlikely before end of year Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock 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 SessionsPress: Ukraine's not the only outrage To understand death behind bars, we need more information White House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations MORE has vowed to “leave no stone unturned” in investigating the issue.