Republicans demand new special counsel over lost FBI text messages

House Republicans are demanding that a second independent special counsel be convened to probe the FBI’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE’s use of a private email account and server.

The demands come after new revelations that the agency failed to preserve five months worth of text messages between two FBI agents who have been accused of pro-Clinton and anti-Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE bias during the 2016 presidential race.

On Sunday, Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonLiberal group launches campaign urging Republicans to support Biden's agenda Domestic extremists return to the Capitol GOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes MORE (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking the agency explain what happened to the missing text messages and to provide any communications between agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that they might have exchanged on their personal devices and email accounts.

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Johnson’s letter also reveals new text messages between Strzok and Page, in which they appear to say they faced “pressure” to wrap up the investigation into Clinton once it became apparent that Trump would be the GOP nominee.

Previous text exchanges revealed that Strzok and Page had privately disparaged Trump.

Strzok played a lead role in the investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified material while at the State Department. Both were on 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 team investigating Russian election meddling before being reassigned following the revelations about their text exchanges.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsGraham found Trump election fraud arguments suitable for 'third grade': Woodward book Allies see rising prospect of Trump 2024 White House bid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US prepares vaccine booster plan MORE (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanAllies see rising prospect of Trump 2024 White House bid Republican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee Watchdog group seeks ethics probe over McCarthy's Jan. 6 comments MORE (R-Ohio) are calling on a new special counsel to investigate the FBI’s handling of the Clinton probe and whether the investigation into allegations that Trump’s campaign officials had improper contacts with Russia was politically motivated.

"Unreal. We've been asking for the remaining text messages between anti-Trump FBI agents (and former Mueller team members), Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The FBI now says the texts are 'missing,'" Meadows tweeted on Monday. "If it wasn't already clear we need a second special counsel, it's abundantly clear now."

"First the IRS destroyed emails pivotal to our investigation of their political targeting," Jordan tweeted on Sunday. "Now the FBI 'failed to preserve' texts between Peter Strzok & Lisa Page following the '16 election. The time for a second special counsel is now."

Democrats have dismissed GOP calls for a second special counsel, accusing them of weaving a conspiracy theory meant to undermine the FBI and muddy the waters around the special counsel's Russia probe, which includes investigating potential ties between members of Trump's campaign and Moscow.

They say Republicans are selectively leaking text messages between Strzok and Page in an effort to make it look like the FBI had it out for Trump and had planned all along to give Clinton a pass.

But Johnson’s letter to the FBI has reignited GOP suspicions of bias at the FBI.

In his letter to Wray, Johnson revealed that the FBI notified him that it had “failed to preserve” text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page between Dec. 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017. The agency attributed the lost data to “misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.”

Rep. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Zeldin says he's in remission after treatment for leukemia Governors brace for 2022 after year in pandemic spotlight MORE (R-N.Y.) called on Congress to subpoena the cell carriers to retrieve the texts.

“Congress must do everything it can to recover these critical text messages, including subpoenaing Strzok and Page’s cell carriers and requesting the FBI perform a full forensic exam of their employees’ phones in an attempt to recover the messages,” Zeldin said in a statement.

In addition, Johnson revealed new text messages between Strzok and Page. In the newly released exchanges, Page informs Strzok that Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMatthew McConaughey on potential political run: 'I'm measuring it' Professor tells Cruz that Texas's voter ID law is racist Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks MORE (R-Texas) had dropped out of the race and that Trump would be the GOP nominee.

“What?!?!?!?!” Strzok responds.

“Now the pressure really starts to finish the MYE,” he says.

Johnson said “MYE” stands for “midyear exam,” which was the FBI’s case name for the Clinton investigation.

Johnson also sought to raise new questions about communication between the FBI and the Justice Department at a critical juncture in the Clinton investigation.

Following a controversial meeting between former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonVirginia governor's race enters new phase as early voting begins Business coalition aims to provide jobs to Afghan refugees Biden nominates ex-State Department official as Export-Import Bank leader MORE and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Lynch said that she would follow the recommendation of then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE about whether to bring charges against Hillary Clinton.

“It’s a real profile in courage, since she knows no charges will be brought,” Page says in a text.

Johnson said that there is also evidence that Strzok and Page talked extensively about the investigations on their personal phones and email accounts and asked the FBI for those communications.