Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed Monday the Department of Justice will investigate the missing text messages between two former FBI officials.
“We will leave no stone unturned to confirm with certainty why these text messages are not now available to be produced and will use every technology available to determine whether the missing messages are recoverable from another source,” Sessions said in a statement. “If we are successful, we will update the congressional committees immediately.”
"I have spoken to the Inspector General and a review is already underway to ascertain what occurred and to determine if these records can be recovered in any other way. If any wrongdoing were to be found to have caused this gap, appropriate legal disciplinary action measures will be taken," he added.
Sessions said more than 50,000 texts were exchanged between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who were revealed to have sent anti-Trump messages during the 2016 election. That number does not include the five months’ worth of missing messages, which spanned from the time of the presidential transition to the start of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, which both officials were previously assigned.
“After reviewing the voluminous records on the FBI’s servers, which included over 50,000 texts, the Inspector General discovered the FBI’s system failed to retain text messages for approximately 5 months between December 14, 2017 to May 17, 2017,” Sessions said.
The FBI blamed the gap on technical problems with their cellphones due to “misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.”
Several Republican lawmakers on Monday called on their colleagues and the DOJ to do everything possible to retrieve the messages.
“Congress must do everything it can to recover these critical text messages, including subpoenaing Strzok and Page’s cell carriers and requesting the FBI perform a full forensic exam of their employees’ phones in an attempt to recover the messages,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said in a statement.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes issued a joint statement about the matter on Monday.
“Rather than clearing up prior FBI and DOJ actions, these recently produced documents cause us to further question the credibility and objectivity of certain officials at the FBI,” they said.
"The day after the election, the day after what they really, really didn't want to have happen, there's a text exchange between [Strzok and Page] ... saying, 'Perhaps this is the first meeting of the secret society,'" Gowdy told Fox News' "The Story with Martha MacCallum" Monday. "So, of course I'm going to want to know: What 'secret society' are you talking about?"