The Department of Justice said it will review why text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were not preserved by the FBI’s system, and if they can be retrieved.
In a letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, sent Friday but released Monday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd gave notice the Justice Department was turning over the previously requested July 2015 to July 2017 texts between the two FBI agents. The latest batch provided is 384 pages of text messages, which will be added to the department release of 375 individual messages in December 2017.
However, like with the letter sent by Boyd to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday, the Justice Department told the House Intelligence Committee the “FBI’s system failed to retain text messages for approximately five months between December 14, 2016 to May 17, 2017.”
According to Boyd, there were “misconfiguration issues” on “many” FBI-issued Samsung 5 phones that “conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.”
“The result was that data that should have been automatically collected and retained for long-term storage and retrieval was not collected,” he said.
Strzok and Page were both part of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, and then also assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation. It has been revealed they exchanged pro-Clinton, anti-Trump messages while also maintaining an extramarital affair during their time on both probes.
Page, a lawyer, left Mueller's team in July 2017 for an unrelated reason, but Strzok, a top counterintelligence official, was removed last summer after the discovery of the text messages.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday a review is “already underway to ascertain what occurred and to determine if these records can be recovered in any other way.”
According to Sessions, “if any wrongdoing were to be found to have caused this gap, appropriate legal disciplinary action measures will be taken.”
“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. If we are successful, we will update the congressional committees immediately,” he added.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.; and Nunes both called the latest batch of text messages "troubling," specifically regarding "when certain key decisions were made by the Department of Justice and the FBI, by whom these decisions were made, and the evident bias exhibited by those in charge of the investigation."
The three lawmakers said that the missing texts are "equally concerning" and cause them to "further question the credibility and objectivity of certain officials at the FBI.”