Remember Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the connected, influential FBI agents who were carrying on an affair as they worked both the Clinton-email and Trump-Russia cases? Of course you do. Their private texts have been the subject of intense scrutiny, not only because of the clues their messages hold regarding the progress of their work (particularly on the Russia matter), but also because of the intense anti-Trump animus they've exposed. Much has been made of the infamous "insurance policy" comment, and now the newly-released Inspector General report reveals another stunner -- adding important context to the 'insurance' sentiment. Don't let anyone spin this away as something other than serious and troubling:
These are stunning texts for FBI officials to have written.— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 14, 2018
Lisa Page: “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”
Peter Strzok: “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.” https://t.co/AbfxwPeeow
Perhaps the most damaging new revelation in the report, according to multiple people familiar with it, is a previously unreported text message in which Peter Strzok, a key investigator on both the Clinton email case and the investigation of Russia and the Trump campaign, assured an FBI lawyer in August 2016 that “we’ll stop” Trump from making it to the White House. “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” the lawyer, Lisa Page, wrote to Strzok. “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded. Though the inspector general condemned individual FBI officials, the report fell significantly short of supporting the assertion by the president and his allies that the investigation was rigged in favor of Clinton, according to a person familiar with its content, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share findings before the report’s formal release.
My initial reaction:
Two top FBI agents — who were heavily involved in both the Hillary/email *and* Trump/Russia investigations — privately texted that they’d “stop” Trump from becoming POTUS & would develop an “insurance policy” if he somehow won.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) June 14, 2018
That looks really bad because...it is really bad.
It's true that the Inspector General, who also found that James Comey was insubordinate and violated protocols during the Clinton probe (by ignoring the chain of command and cutting out then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, whom he believed to be compromised on the subject, not without reason), did not find evidence of deliberate political bias in the execution of the Clinton investigation. He did, however, write that the agents' conduct "cast[s] a cloud over the entire FBI investigation." I'd say so. But how could IG Michael Horowitz reach the former conclusion, in light of these overtly partisan texts? My guess is that those anti-Trump messages were swapped in discussions over the Russia investigation, which is the subject of a separate and ongoing IG examination. In other words, I believe Ed Morrissey has this right:
I suspect this will have more weight in Horowitz' review of DoJ behavior in the Russia probe than it apparently does in this report on the Hillary Clinton probe.— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) June 14, 2018
That report could be a real doozy. Meanwhile, as some Republicans demand Strzok be fired (remember, he was booted off of Robert Mueller's squad after these texts we discovered internally), others are connecting the dots on how we're just now learning about the "we'll stop it" text:
How is it that Lisa Page's question ("Trump's not going to become president, right?") was leaked, but Peter Strzok's response ("No, we'll stop it") was not until now? And how is that not a massive deal?— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) June 14, 2018
My mind is boggled.
DOJ official is unable to say if Strok's "we'll stop" Trump text message was deleted, or something else. But the response was to an Aug. 9, 2016 message from Lisa Page. That's before FBI servers were hit with glitch. https://t.co/qTupjCRPW9 @dailycaller pic.twitter.com/0pExRXlkXD— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) June 14, 2018
Was this damning and wildly inappropriate text from a lead FBI investigator on the Russia case deliberately withheld from Congress? A few more thoughts: (1) As we assess the IG report, don't forget that one of its biggest bombshells has been known for many weeks at this point: Namely, the deliberate and illegal lying of former FBI Assistant Director Andrew McCabe, who has since been fired, in connection with the Clinton probe. Mr. Horowitz has recommended criminal charges against him. (2) Here's Trey Gowdy on Peter Strzok. As you read this quote, recall that Gowdy very clearly does not feel obligated to toe the Trump line on these matters:
Gowdy says Strzok’s “manifest bias ... call into question any other investigations he was part of including his role in the investigation of what Russia did in 2016.”— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 14, 2018
(3) And then, there's this:
'Foreign actors' accessed Hillary Clinton emails, documents showhttps://t.co/we1Gqp7Wmq— Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) June 14, 2018
Fox News obtained the memo prepared by the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, which lays out key interim findings ahead of next week’s hearing with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. The IG, separately, is expected to release his highly anticipated report on the Clinton email case later Thursday. The House committees, which conducted a joint probe into decisions made by the DOJ in 2016 and 2017, addressed a range of issues in their memo including Clinton's email security. “Documents provided to the Committees show foreign actors obtained access to some of Mrs. Clinton’s emails -- including at least one email classified 'Secret,'" the memo says, adding that foreign actors also accessed the private accounts of some Clinton staffers.
Please recall that Hillary assured us this didn't happen, even though experts and other top US officials (including Comey) strongly suggested otherwise. The scope of her gross negligence in setting up a rogue, unsecure email server through which she disseminated highly classified material continues to amaze. Her endless lying about it only makes matters worse. While it may not have been rooted in political bias, Comey's decision not to recommend prosecution was an egregious mistake and a blow to the rule of law.
I'll leave you with these parting thoughts, which cut against the grain: First, Strzok (who had previously "softened" language to downplay Clinton's misconduct) did help craft Comey's memo to Congress informing them that he was reopening the Clinton email case in late October 2016 -- arguably a massively damaging development for her campaign. And second, if he'd really wanted to "stop" Trump's election, he could have risked his career and freedom to leak the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into Trump associates at the tail end of the campaign cycle. That was a political kill shot that was never fired.
It wasn't just Strzok & Page.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) June 14, 2018
IG turned up personal messages espousing partisan views (anti-Trump / defensive of Hillary) from *FIVE* different FBI officials connected to the case -- bringing "discredit to themselves" & "sow[ing] doubt" about the probe, according to the report: pic.twitter.com/yLenafiAIE
On the flip side, via Allahpundit: "Read the IG’s executive summary and you’ll find Horowitz noting that both Strzok and Page at times called for more aggressive investigation of Hillary’s email practices involving warrants and subpoenas, suggesting that their personal presidential preferences didn’t deter them from doing their jobs in at least this particular case. (Russiagate, again, is a separate question)." He concludes: "The question of actual impropriety is important and will wait for another day. The question of an appearance of impropriety — an egregious one with the highest political stakes — is now settled. Why does Strzok still have a job?"