Palace intrigue abounds. The FBI remains in the spotlight as new texts reveal a possible anti-Trump secret society that’s meeting offsite. What is this? At the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, there’s Dumbledore’s Army, a group of disgruntled staffers resisting the new leadership of Office of Budget and Management Director Mick Mulvaney; they reportedly communicate through encrypted devices. So, ABC News got their hands on the secret meeting texts and wondered if this was made in jest:
Lawmakers have refused to publicly release the full text message, sent the day after Trump won the 2016 presidential election. But ABC News has obtained a copy of the one message that Republicans appear to be citing, and it's unclear if the message's reference to a “secret society” may have been made in jest.
"Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society," FBI lawyer Lisa Page wrote to senior FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was working on the FBI’s probe of Russian meddling in the presidential election and would later join Page for a brief period on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team.
That text stands alone in the series of messages obtained by ABC News – with no apparent tie to other messages sent before or after it.
Asked Wednesday whether he believes there’s a "secret society" inside the FBI to take down the president, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., said, "That's Strzok and Page’s term."
"Everything I take with a grain of salt," he added. "[But] I've heard from an individual that ... there was a group of managers within the FBI that were holding meetings off site."
So "when Strzok and Page had described a secret society, that didn't surprise me because I had corroborating information," Johnson said.
Okay—first, you’d think there would be such a benefit of the doubt if the roles were reversed, FBI agents seemingly disgruntled over a Democratic president. I don’t think so. Second, and probably most important, who cares if they were joking? A top counterintelligence agent and bureau lawyer shouldn’t be making these jokes, especially since they’re involved in highly sensitive investigations, like the Russia probe headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. How serious? Well, when the first batch of texts between these two—Strzok was having an extramarital affair with Page, by the way—stretching from August 2015 to December 2016, became known to Mueller, he removed Strzok from the Russia probe; Page’s business with the investigation had already concluded. Yet, what’s odd about that development is that we, and by that I mean Congress and the public, found out about Strzok’s removal four months after it happened. Well, maybe that’s because the texts are explicitly pro-Hillary, anti-Trump. They make a reference to an “insurance policy” in an August 15, 2016 text, which some have alleged could be a reference to the Trump dossier—an opposition research document compiled by research firm Fusion GPS through an ex-MI6 operation that was funded by the Hillary campaign. It’s also been speculated that it’s been used to secure FISA warrants against Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Trump, and other individuals on the campaign and during the transition. In all, it’s all very embarrassing, which is probably why the FBI tried to keep this secret, despite zero national security risks.
So, let’s say they were joking—we still don’t know—it doesn’t absolve top officials at the FBI for being grossly unprofessional, unethical, and neither does it absolve Strzok and Page from their antics with these texts that number in the tens of thousands. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the two sent at least 50,000 total texts. You have anti-Trump texts, riddled with references to secret society meetings and an “insurance policy,” and the latter was about a meeting these two just had with Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Joking or not, it’s still bad. It seems to show a level of bias that should be disconcerting to all, especially since the FBI is our preeminent domestic intelligence agency, along with their role in federal law enforcement.