The FBI could do itself a lot of good if it was just transparent with the congressional committees looking for answers of Fusion GPS, the Trump dossier, and the texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and bureau lawyer Lisa Page. But that’s not happening. So, as the focus of the FBI’s scrutiny centers on the Strzok-Page interactions, let’s go through another area that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants clarification on: did they use private devices to communicate during the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
The two were having an extramarital affair, sending some 50,000 texts. They were explicitly anti-Trump and pro-Hillary. They were very, very looking forward to having the former secretary of state become the next president. The bias is bad enough. Then, the text about the “insurance policy” that Strzok mentioned in a August 15, 2016 text after a meeting with Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, which some say is a reference to the Trump dossier. On Thursday, texts between Sztrok and Page showed that they were talking about maybe pulling some punches in the Hillary email probe because they feared they were going too hard on the former first lady. Hillary Clinton had conducted all official business at State on a private unsecure and unauthorized email server while serving as out top diplomat in the Obama administration. There was concern that she mishandled classified information.
Sen. Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants answers from FBI Director Chris Wray concerning the question of communication through private devices, among other things (via Fox News)[emphasis mine]:
FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page may have used personal accounts to send official records to each other about the Hillary Clinton email probe in 2016 even as the bureau investigated her for a "similar" practice, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.
“It appears that Strzok and Page transmitted federal records pertaining to the Clinton investigation on private, non-government services,” the Iowa Republican wrote in a Thursday letter to FBI Director Chris Wray.
He questioned whether that affected the bureau's treatment of the Clinton case.
“It is important to determine whether their own similar conduct was a factor in not focusing on and developing evidence of similar violations by Secretary Clinton and her aides,” Grassley said.
Grassley wrote in his letter to Wray that Strzok and Page, in some texts, also referred to “related conversations they were having via iMessage, presumably on their personal Apple devices.”
“Has the FBI asked Mr. Strzok or Ms. Page to voluntarily provide any information from their personal accounts?” Grassley asked Wray. “If so, have they been cooperative? If the FBI has not asked, please explain why not.”
The Republican senator also asked, “Has the FBI performed any voluntary searches of Strzok or Page’s non-government phones or email accounts to determine whether federal records exist?”
Now we know the fix was in, and I think the logical thing is, if the fix was in on the Clinton investigation, and if these same people—the top people at the FBI—started and ran the Trump-Russia investigation, might there be some bad things going on there as well?” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Friday on “Fox & Friends.” “And as you look at these text messages, it sure looks like there is.”
So, let’s circle back to Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal who wrote before Christmas that the FBI was abusing secrecy powers to avoid embarrassment. That embarrassment initially being the overt anti-Trump nature of the texts sent by their top counterintelligence agent—Strzok—who was involved in both the Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations. It torpedoed the credibility of the investigations. Moreover, Strzok and Page’s trysts also spoke to the lack of professionalism among the personnel in these cases. The DOJ hid the anti-Trump text exchanges between the two under the bed for months before it became known, with Strzok, who was relieved of his position in the Russia probe once Special Counsel Robert Mueller found out about the texts, being reassigned to human resources last August.
Is this yet another example of the FBI dragging its feet to avoid embarrassment? Two officials using private devices while investigating one of the most powerful politicians in the country and a major presidential candidate…who had used private devices and email server, while saying they should probably back off a bit. It paints a picture between how the FBI has conducted itself in the email and Russia investigations—and it’s quite a stark difference between the two (via NRO):
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.
The irregularities in the Clinton-emails investigation are breathtaking: the failure to use the grand jury to compel the production of key physical evidence; the Justice Department’s collaboration with defense lawyers to restrict the FBI’s ability to pursue obvious lines of inquiry and examine digital evidence; immunity grants to suspects who should have been charged with crimes and pressured to cooperate; allowing subjects of the investigation to be present for each other’s FBI interviews and even to act as lawyers for Clinton, in violation of legal and ethical rules; Comey’s preparation of a statement exonerating Clinton months before the investigation was complete and key witnesses — including Clinton herself — were interviewed; and the shameful tarmac meeting between Obama attorney general Loretta Lynch and Mrs. Clinton’s husband just days before Mrs. Clinton sat for a perfunctory FBI interview (after which Comey announced the decision not to charge her).
The FBI is under the microscope and it suspect it’ll remain there for quite some time.