National Security

Republicans demand new special counsel over lost FBI text messages

Greg Nash

House Republicans are demanding that a second independent special counsel be convened to probe the FBI’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’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 Trump bias during the 2016 presidential race.

On Sunday, Sen. Ron Johnson (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.

{mosads}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 Mueller’s team investigating Russian election meddling before being reassigned following the revelations about their text exchanges.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (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 Zeldin (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 Cruz (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 Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Lynch said that she would follow the recommendation of then-FBI Director James Comey 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.

Tags Bill Clinton Donald Trump Hillary Clinton James Comey Jim Jordan Lee Zeldin Mark Meadows Robert Mueller Ron Johnson Ted Cruz
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