Watchdog issues recommendations on saving all texts sent from DOJ-issued devices

The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of Inspector General issued recommendations in a report Tuesday aimed at ensuring that all text messages sent from DOJ-administered devices are collected and retained, after controversy surrounding anti-Trump texts sent by a pair of FBI staffers. 

The office said, after finding current procedures fail to properly retain all texts sent from FBI-administered devices, that it is recommending that current agency policy be amended “to formally designate an entity to be responsible for text message collection and retention.”

It also called for all current and future message collection tools to be studied for any potential flaws that prevented some texts from being retained, and that any collected data be “saved to a secure or encrypted location.“

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“Current and future mobile devices and data collection and preservation tools should be tested for security vulnerabilities in order to ensure the security of the devices and the safekeeping of the sensitive data therein,” the report states. 

The recommendations were issued as part of the probe into text messages exchanged between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and ex-agency lawyer Lisa Page. Some of the messages expressed sentiments against President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE.

Not all of the two agents' texts were retained as part of the agency's text message collection system, leaving a gap that fueled theories from some conservatives about what else the pair may have discussed and how the texts went missing.

Both Page and Strzok worked for special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE at one point; Mueller dismissed Strzok after the messages were discovered. Page has left the FBI, and Strzok was fired from the agency last year.

The office was able to recover some of the texts that weren’t maintained by the bureau’s collection systems, but Republicans were outraged over the missing messages.

The watchdog said in a report released last year that there were no “discernible patterns” in the content of texts exchanged between the pair that weren’t collected by the FBI’s systems.

But that report also found that messages sent between the pair on iPhones administered while they worked for Mueller couldn't be recovered, a revelation that Trump and his allies have seized on to argue that the DOJ is biased against the president.