In December, The Wall Street Journal editorial board alleged that there might be election meddling occurring at the FBI. Text messages between former counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, a bureau lawyer, referenced an “insurance policy” with regards to Trump. What does that mean? The text was sent in August of 2016, a month after the FBI has started a counterintelligence investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. Some say that the “insurance” is a reference to the Trump dossier. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), chair of the House Freedom Caucus, took to Twitter to comment on the Strzok-Page texts, which he says supports the allegation that there might have been election meddling at the FBI.
For starters, both Page and Strzok discussed pressure to finish the Hillary email probe once it became clear Donald Trump was going to be the GOP nominee. That text was sent on May 4, 2016—the day Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) dropped out of the race. Also, Strzok was the one who changed then-FBI’s James Comey’s remarks to say Hillary Clinton was extremely careless with her email server instead of grossly negligent, the latter being a crime, which Meadows cited under the “reasonable person standard.” That had to be changed.
“Think about how important that is,” wrote Meadows. “We have a text from Peter Strzok talking about the pressure to end the Clinton investigation, and then--within 48 hours--documents suggesting Peter Strzok changed Dir. Comey's letter from criminal charges to just ‘carelessness.’ That's major.”
He added, “If this is anything what it looks like--the FBI changing course on investigation, putting their thumb on the scale to undermine Donald Trump and essentially help Hillary Clinton--that is as wrong as it gets.”
Yes, by this account, it sure does look like the FBI's expediency in the Hillary probe was politically motivated, trying to get the email monkey off her back in order to campaign against Trump without distractions.
Here's the thread:
THREAD--explaining the context around the Peter Strzok/Lisa Page text messages, and why they're connected to both the Hillary investigation and this so-called "Russian-collusion" investigation— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
Remember the key figure here: Peter Strzok, the former deputy of counter-intelligence at the FBI. Guy who ran the 2016 Clinton investigation, who interviewed key witnesses including Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Hillary Clinton. Former Mueller team member. Strzok is the guy here— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
We have all these anti-Trump texts in 2016 from Peter Strzok, talking about an "insurance policy" in case Trump gets elected President. We have texts from Strzok to Lisa Page saying "We can't take the risk" Trump wins the Presidency. By itself, that's a huge problem.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
But there's more. We now have a text between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, FBI agents, directly talking about the pressure to finish the Hillary Clinton investigation--a text which occurred right after Donald J. Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
We have a text from May 4, 2016 where Peter Strzok says: “Now the pressure really starts to finish MYE…” (or 'Mid-Year Exam,' the FBI’s code name for the Clinton investigation.) May 4, 2016 is important--because it's when Ted Cruz dropped out. That day, Trump was the nominee.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
So we have Peter Strzok, the deputy of FBI counter-intelligence and lead Clinton investigator, who we already know blasted Trump in text messages, talking about the need to end the Clinton investigation... right after he knew Hillary would be running against Trump. Major problem.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
Now pause, and circle to FBI Director Comey. Remember Director Comey's exoneration letter? The letter from 2016 that, at first, called Hillary Clinton "grossly negligent" but was mysteriously changed to "extremely careless"? That change is massively important.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
Remember, "gross negligence" under the "reasonable person standard" is a crime. "Extreme carelessness" is not, however. That change is hugely significant. Had Dir. Comey called Hillary "grossly negligent" in his letter, he would've essentially been saying she committed a crime.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
Now take that letter change, and go back to Peter Strzok. We have email documentation that suggests the "gross negligence" claim in Director Comey's exoneration letter was changed to "extremely careless" between May 4, 2016 and May 6, 2016... by none other than Peter Strzok.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
Think about how important that is. We have a text from Peter Strzok talking about the pressure to end the Clinton investigation, and then--within 48 hours--documents suggesting Peter Strzok changed Dir. Comey's letter from criminal charges to just "carelessness." That's major.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
Folks, this stinks to high heaven. If this is anything what it looks like--the FBI changing course on investigation, putting their thumb on the scale to undermine Donald Trump and essentially help Hillary Clinton--that is as wrong as it gets. This demands further investigation.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
And remember, this doesn't even address a host of other questions! The dossier. The Carter Page FISA application (that they still won't show us). The 5 months of mysteriously "missing" Page/Strzok texts. The FBI communicating with Fusion GPS/DNC-hired Christopher Steele. Come on.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
This is not party politics. This is not partisan bickering. This is an issue that gets at the very heart of who we are as a nation. If any officials at the FBI were engaged in this kind of behavior, we need to know.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
Bottom line: tell us the truth. Tell us the truth about what happened with the Clinton investigation, the 2016 election, and leading up to this "collusion" investigation. All of it. Americans deserve the truth.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 24, 2018
The FBI has a lot of questions that need answering, but so far they’re dragging their feet on some of the inquiries. And there is cause for concern. The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel wrote that the FBI is abusing its secrecy powers to hide their embarrassing behavior.
When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Mueller were informed of the Strzok-Page texts on July 27, Strassel wrote, “Both men hid that explosive information from Congress for four months. The Justice Department, pleading secrecy, defied subpoenas that would have produced the texts. It refused to make Mr. Strzok available for an interview. It didn’t do all this out of fear of hurting national security, obviously. It did it to save itself and the FBI from embarrassment.”
National Review broke down how both the Russian collusion and Hillary emails probes have played out and yes—there is a glaring discrepancy between the two, which these texts and Meadow’s thread point out concerning how the bureau handled the probe involving the former first lady:
In August 2016, Strzok, who played a lead-investigator role in the Hillary Clinton–emails investigation, flatly stated that the FBI could not “take that risk,” referring to the possibility that Donald Trump might be elected president. He made the statement in a message to Lisa Page, a bureau lawyer with whom he was having an extramarital affair. Strzok referred to an alternative FBI “path” regarding Trump’s “unlikely” election that Page had proposed during a meeting they’d attended in “Andy’s office” — meaning deputy director Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s number-two official, second only to then-director James Comey.
Around the time of Strzok’s message, the FBI and the Obama Justice Department had come into possession of the anti-Trump “dossier” compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. The dossier was opposition research commissioned by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, through their lawyers. They had retained a research company, Fusion GPS, which hired Steele, who evidently paid Russian sources for what appears to be dodgy information.
We now know that one of Fusion’s point people on the project was a Russia analyst named Nellie Ohr, the wife of Bruce Ohr, the Obama Justice Department’s associate deputy attorney general. He was the right hand of Sally Yates, the famously anti-Trump deputy AG who was eventually — and justifiably — fired by Trump for insubordination (when she was his inherited acting AG). Bruce Ohr held meetings with Steele and Fusion founder Glenn Simpson (and has now been demoted over them). During the summer of 2016, the Justice Department and the bureau sought a warrant from a secret federal court to conduct surveillance of a Trump-campaign official. It is reported that agents used information from the dossier to obtain the warrant, even though, as recently as March 2017, then-director Comey dismissed Steele’s work as “salacious and unverified” in congressional testimony. For months, the House Intelligence Committee has been pressing for answers about whether and how this Clinton-campaign document was used to obtain the authority for the surveillance; the Justice Department and the FBI won’t answer and refuse to produce the warrant.
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.