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Tipsheet

Oh My: New Texts Show FBI Agents Discussed Ways To Avoid Federal Records Regulations

FBI agent Peter Strzok and bureau lawyer Lisa Page sent each other tens of thousands of texts. Strzok was a top counterintelligence agent at the bureau. He was having an extramarital affair with Page, taking swipes at Trump and obviously showing bias towards Hillary Clinton; the two really wanted her to be the next president. All of these communications sent during the FBI’s email probe into Hillary Clinton and the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign concerning possible collusion with the Russians. 

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For the Russia probe that’s now head up by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Strzok signed off on it in July of 2016. In August of 2016, he sent a text to page regarding their meeting with now ex-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe about “an insurance policy” against a Trump win. What is that? Well, some has suggested it could be a reference to the Trump dossier, which is said to have been used to secure FISA warrants against members of the Trump team. The dossier has not been fully corroborated. It’s also a piece of opposition research funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Fusion GPS was paid by the Hillary team to find dirt on Trump, GPS then contracted former MI6 spook Christopher Steele to compile information.

With Hillary, there were texts sent by Page worrying that the FBI was being too hard on the former first lady. Did the bureau tip the scales here? We all know Hillary escaped charges being filed against her for her reckless email setup while serving as secretary of state. Now, former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson noted there was also an exchange between the Strzok and Page about avoiding federal records regulations (via The Hill):

In a new exchange released by the Senate Homeland Security committee today, FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok seem to discuss this very issue in private texts.

Page: Have a meeting with turgal about getting iphone in a day or so

Strzok: Oh hot damn. . . We get around our security/monitoring issues?

Page: No, he’s proposing that we just stop following them.  Apparently the requirement to capture texts came from [Office of Management and Budget], but we’re the only org (I’m told) who is following that rule.  His point is, if no one else is doing it why should we. . .  I’m told – thought I have seen – that there is an IG report that says everyone is failing.  But one has changed anything, so why not just join in the failure.

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It’s a shockingly cavalier attitude from an attorney and high level FBI official. 

There are more text messages between Strzok and Page from a critical time period, as we now know, that the FBI claimed had been lost in a technical glitch. After that became public, the Inspector General said he was able to recover them. (Interesting that the FBI couldn’t.)

Where are all those text messages now? Instead of providing them directly to Congress, the Inspector General is giving the recovered text messages to the Department of Justice which then can give them to Congress (after any bad actors theoretically implicated in the texts have time to mount a fulsome defense).

This is just one artery of a huge problem that also includes federal agencies routinely violating Freedom of Information Act law. They’ve twisted the law on its head, using it to obstruct and delay the release of obviously public information.

Turgal is a reference to James Turgal, the executive assistant director for the Information and Technology Branch, who was appointed there in February of 2016.

So, while the bureau was investigating Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information through her unauthorized and unsecure server, and trying to find her missing emails, and with the press hammering Clinton for siring federal records regulations—the top officials at the FBI were discussing ways to do just that. Yeah, I could see how the FBI would want to keep that hidden, the aversion to putting information out there that could embarrass the bureau seems to be the reason why they’re dragging their feet on these document requests made by investigative congressional committees. Well, the FISA memo is now released, so dig in, folks.

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Strzok was removed from the Russia probe in August of 2017 once Mueller found out about the deluge of anti-Trump texts. He was reassigned to human resources. 

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