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) 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 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 TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE — as well as other candidates — ahead of the 2016 election.
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 JohnsonMost Senate Republicans don't want to see Trump run again Hillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — TSA to issue cybersecurity directives to secure rail, aviation sectors Bill requiring companies report cyber incidents moves forward in the Senate MORE (R-Wis.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves 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 SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE has vowed to “leave no stone unturned” in investigating the issue.