We all had our suspicions about what FBI agent Peter Strzok meant by “insurance policy,” which he wrote in a text to bureau lawyer Lisa Page, a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair. The text was one of 10,000 that were sent between these two FBI officials from August 15, 2015-December 1, 2016; this one was sent to Page in August of 2016. The Wall Street Journal reported that according to agents familiar with Strzok’s account, he was referring to the Russia investigation when he mentioned “insurance.” He was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in August once he was informed about these communications; the DOJ inspector general was looking into their texts. Strzok, who was in counter-intelligence, was part of two key FBI investigations. He was involved in the Hillary Clinton email probe and the bureau’s counterintelligence investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians during the 2016 election, which he signed off on making this inquiry official back in July of 2016. Hence, why eyebrows were raised over this “insurance” reference (via WSJ) [emphasis mine]:
An FBI agent’s reference to “an insurance policy” in a much-debated text message was meant to convey that the bureau needed to aggressively investigate allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, according to people familiar with his account.
The agent didn’t intend to suggest a secret plan to harm the candidate but rather address a colleague who believed the Federal Bureau of Investigation could take its time because Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was certain to win the election, the people said.
The text was one of many that have recently emerged in which FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page disparaged Mr. Trump, calling him an “idiot” and “loathsome human,” among other things.
Republicans have cited the texts as evidence of bias. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote the Justice Department: “Some of these texts appear to go beyond merely expressing a private political opinion, and appear to cross the line into taking some official action to create an ‘insurance policy’ against a Trump presidency.”
Mr. Strzok was the lead agent on the FBI investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. Until late July, he was also the top investigator in special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, but Mr. Mueller removed him after learning of the texts.
The Justice Department’s Inspector General is examining the texts as part of an investigation of how the FBI and Justice Department handled the Clinton inquiry.
Few of the messages have attracted as much attention as the one sent by Mr. Strzok to Ms. Page in August 2016 mentioning an “insurance policy,” which critics have read as reflecting an intent to prevent Mr. Trump from winning.
Mr. Strzok wrote, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40…”
On Twitter, Wilber expounded more on this, while adding that this doesn’t point to a deep state plot to block Donald Trump from winning. Plainly, it shows that this isn’t one of the FBI’s proudest moments, with former agents apparently appalled by Strzok’s behavior, given the nature of these texts, his position in two key investigations, and the added bonus that he was having an affair with an FBI attorney. All of this speaks to the credibility of the agency. It potentially speaks volumes about the office culture at the FBI, along with the judgment Mueller has when it comes to picking his staff. The Journal’s editorial board noted other troubling instances, like a now-demoted DOJ official, Bruce Ohr, meeting with the authors of the infamous and unverified Trump dossier. Oh, and his wife, Nellie, worked for the firm—Fusion GPS—that hired former MI6 operative Christopher Steele, who compiled the file, which was subsidized by the Hillary Clinton campaign. The publication added that evidence is mounting that the FBI possibly engaged in election meddling. We’ll see, but for now—the “insurance” referred to is the Russia investigation. Also, another thing the WSJ noted that former agents and prosecutors were flabbergasted that Page and Strzok were even texting each other about these cases.
Yet, let’s be honest. Even if the probe was to be an aggressive review into whether the Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia colluded, and there was—in this hypothetical—evidence of collusion, you don’t think Democrats would try to refocus this inquiry upstream to ensnare Trump? Of course they would. That’s why they’ve been obsessing about it for months. To this day, there is zero evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
There are other instances at the FBI that are just as troubling as the texts, like former FBI Director James Comey drafting an exoneration statement for Hillary Clinton before agents had interviewed the former first lady. Oh, and Mr. Strzok editing the statement, like nixing the phrase “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.” Mr. Comey was also investigated for violating the Hatch Act, a law that bars federal employees within the executive from engaging in most political activities. His top aides, FBI chief of staff James Rybicki and FBI attorney Trisha Anderson were interviewed, but the FBI has refused to turn over the transcripts. Even without the deep state drama, we already have conduct that some in the FBI were injecting their political biases into the investigations. Hence, the reason why the National Review wants someone to scrutinize the FBI’s conduct in the execution of their investigations into the Clinton email probe and possible Russian collusion. Why? Because it’s night and day:
Everything that has happened in the Trump probe stands out against a backdrop of leniency in the Clinton investigation. While Mueller has prosecuted two Trump associates for lying to the FBI, the Obama Justice Department gave a pass to Mrs. Clinton and her subordinates, who gave the FBI misinformation about such key matters as whether Clinton understood markings in classified documents and whether her aides knew about her homebrew server system during their State Department service. Mueller’s team conducted a predawn raid at gunpoint in executing a search warrant on Paul Manafort’s home while Manafort was cooperating with congressional committees. When it came to the Clinton case, though, the Justice Department not only eschewed search warrants, or even mere subpoenas, but they never even took possession of the DNC server alleged to have been hacked by Russian operatives.
We need some answers. I won’t speculate on the more Parallax View aspects of these texts. Surely, the leaks from the intelligence community were unacceptable and some folks in that field thought it would be best to try and hamstring this administration. We’ll have to see what happens next regarding the texts and the FBI. There are surely some troubling activities here, deep state or not.
Peter Strzok, the FBI agent, and Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer, were having an affair. They were texting about everything (sharply critical of Bernie Sanders, Chelsea Clinton, Eric Holder, esp Trump). Even the Russia probe. They even joked about potential code names for it. 2/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
She suggested Latitude because it sounded military but wasn’t specific enough to draw attention. He thought that was good, but then jokingly proposed “YUUUGE,” (Trump’s NY accent version of HUGE). But he noted he might save that one if the FBI ever opens a case on Trump. 3/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
A few days before the “insurance” text, he says: “OMG I CANNOT BELIEVE WE ARE SERIOUSLY LOOKING AT THESE ALLEGATIONS AND THE PERVASIVE CONNECTIONS.” then: “What the hell has happened to our country????” He appears flabbergasted by what he has seen. 4/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
So Page, Strzok & others meet in Dep. Dir Andrew McCabe’s office. (everyone agrees on that). People familiar with their account tell me that Page says HRC is likely to win and they can take their time on what could be a rather complicated investigation of Russian meddling. 5/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
This is a very sensitive counterintelligence probe -- most CI probes involve some of the FBI’s and US govt’s most closely held secrets/tactics/strategies/sources/methods -- so it would make sense to be methodical, think through things, not risk key assets. 6/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
(side note) Why they are texting about this case -- even elliptically -- on cellphones is kind of mind boggling, according to former agents and prosecutors. 7/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
About 630 a.m. on Aug 15, Strzok wrote: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40…” 8/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
Here, according to the people familiar with his account, he is saying: You are probably right. Hillary is going to win, and we can take our time. But he doesn’t believe they can take that risk. We need to be aggressive, he is saying, no matter who might win... 9/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
In fact, he is saying, we need to pursue this as if Trump might win because then people we are investigating might end up in his administration. Remember: he had just texted her IN ALL CAPS how mind-blowing this all was. 10/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
So the “insurance” policy means in a texty way that sometimes you get insurance in the unlikely event you might die. A small cost (insurance is less expensive the younger you are) is a good investment. This is how he views Trump/Russia/Clinton. 11/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
According to the people familiar with his account, he is literally saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We have to proceed aggressively in the off-chance Trump succeeds so we can have answers by then, if possible. 12/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
Trump allies read this as evidence the FBI was cooking up a conspiracy to prevent Trump from winning. But we've seen no sign of that. Did FBI Director Jim Comey not get the memo? Comey has been savaged by DEMs for wrecking HRC’s chances with the last-minute letter to Congress! pic.twitter.com/8MnuL1WfrJ— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
There is no evidence Strzok or Page or anyone else at FBI leaked anything before the election to hurt Trump. In fact, the Obama admin has been criticized for not saying more about Russia before nov 8. https://t.co/uQjO7CqIeh 13/x pic.twitter.com/IcpsfKvTgg— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
The FBI agent and lawyer did themselves no favors with their behavior. Strzok was heading two of the most consequential investigations in FBI history, and he texted like this and had an affair? And about the case (somewhat slyly)? Former agents cannot believe this. 14/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
The text themselves raise so many questions about impartiality that a loyal Bureau man to his core -- Mueller -- jettisoned Strzok from his team probably within minutes of learning about the texts. 15/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
As Stewart Baker, former general counsel at NSA, wrote on LAWFARE: “The texts say a lot, none of it good, about the FBI’s culture and Bob Mueller’s staffing choices. They say nothing about a grand plot by the Deep State.” https://t.co/EuhkfORMzI 16/x— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017
It is what it is. The explanation is probably unsatisfying to many who wish there was a conspiracy and to those who wish there was a more innocuous explanation. No water carrying here. Just the facts. Tips: pop an email to me and I will send you my signal: https://t.co/gJSkgR688V— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) December 18, 2017