Whether there was collusion between FBI agent Peter Strzok, bureau lawyer Lisa Page, and a FISA judge remains to be seen, but the optics certainly are not good. The Federalist obtained texts between Strzok and Page, reportedly showing that the two planned to collude with Judge Rudolph Contreras after his appointment to the FISA Court. The publication also wrote that these exchanges were reportedly hidden from Congress. The judge mentioned in the texts was involved in the Michael Flynn case [emphasis mine]:
Newly discovered text messages obtained by The Federalist reveal two key federal law enforcement officials conspired to meet with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) judge who presided over the federal case against Michael Flynn. The judge, Rudolph Contreras, was recused from handling the case just days after accepting the guilty plea of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser who was charged with making false statements to federal investigators.
“Rudy is on the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court]!” Page excitedly texted Strzok on July 25, 2016. “Did you know that? Just appointed two months ago.”
“I did,” Strzok responded. “I need to get together with him.”
“[He] said he’d gotten on a month or two ago at a graduation party we were both at.”
Contreras was appointed to the top surveillance court on May 19, 2016, federal records show.
The pair even schemed about how to set up a cocktail or dinner party just so Contreras, Strzok, and Page could speak without arousing suspicion that they were colluding. Strzok expressed concern that a one-on-one meeting between the two men might require Contreras’ recusal from matters in which Strzok was involved.
“[REDACTED] suggested a social setting with others would probably be better than a one on one meeting,” Strzok told Page. “I’m sorry, I’m just going to have to invite you to that cocktail party.”
“Have to come up with some other work people cover for action,” Strzok added.
“Why more?” Page responded. “Six is a perfectly fine dinner party.”
It is not known whether the proposed party happened as planned.
It’s all part of a long saga of impropriety and unethical behavior concerning top officials at the FBI. Strzok was a top counterintelligence agent at the bureau, being involved in two highly sensitive investigations in 2016. One involving whether former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information sent through her unauthorized and unsecure email server, the other signing off on the counterintelligence probe into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians; the latter of which is now being headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Strzok was also having an extramarital affair with Lisa Page, with the two exchanging tens of thousands of texts, all of them anti-Trump and pro-Clinton—highly unseemly for a man in a key position in the nation’s preeminent domestic law enforcement and intelligence agency. It was bad enough for Mueller to remove Strzok from the Russia investigation in August of 2017 when he became aware of the texts. In August of 2016, Strzok and Page texted about their meeting with ex-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was forced out after an inspector general report cited him for an improver media disclosure concerning disagreement between the DOJ and the FBI over their investigation into the Clinton Foundation. McCabe also reportedly misled investigators about his actions.
In that exchange with “Andy,” Strzok makes a reference to an insurance policy, which many have speculated is the Trump dossier, a piece of partisan opposition research subsidized by the Clinton campaign. The Hillary Team contacted Fusion GPS, who then hired former British spook Christopher Steele to find dirt on Donald Trump. This file was used to secure a FISA warrant against former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page. There have also been allegations that FISA powers were abused, citing the Carter warrant, which is another issue entirely. Yet, the notion that opposition research from a political campaign can be used to secure a spy warrant on members of an opposing presidential campaign is deeply troubling. Of course, Democrats say this is overblown.
On top of this, there were other texts that show Page and Strzok were concerned that the bureau was going too hard on Hillary during the email probe Strzok was also made aware that analyst had found a possible breach in the server. There was no follow up.
And there were other communications reportedly showing the two discussing how to skirt federal records protocols. So, you could see why the FBI was sort of dragging their feet on disclosing what Congress was asking of them for months: there’s a lot of embarrassing details here. So, the FBI has a huge mess to clean up, though some are rightfully asking what the heck are Strzok and Page still doing at the FBI? Since the revelations of the anti-Trump texts, Strzok has been reassigned to human resources.