“NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!” Trump tweeted late Wednesday morning — around the time the president was scheduled to receive his daily intelligence briefing.
NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2018
Earlier Wednesday, Fox News posted a story summarizing the texts between Peter Strzok, the deputy assistant director of counterintelligence, and Lisa Page, an FBI attorney, who were reportedly having an affair at the time. The texts were published in an “interim” report by the Senate Homeland Security Committee on the Clinton email investigation.
In one exchange dated Sept. 2, 2016, Strzok and Page discussed drafting talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey, apparently intended for Comey to brief Obama, who “wants to know everything we’re doing.”
In the report, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said that the message raises “questions about the type and extent of President Obama’s personal involvement in the Clinton email scandal and the FBI investigation of it.”
However, it’s unclear whether Obama’s purported interest was in the FBI’s investigation of Clinton — or in the Trump campaign. The FBI did not reopen its investigation of Clinton’s emails until later that month. The FBI did, however, have an active counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia at that time.
And three days after the aforementioned text, Obama reportedly pulled Russian President Vladimir Putin aside at a Group of 20 meeting in Hanghzhou, China, and warned him “to cut it out.”
In another exchange cited in the report, Strzok referred to Virginians who voted against Democratic state Senate candidate Jill McCabe — wife of then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — as “ignorant hillbillys (sic).” A day after firing Comey, Trump reportedly asked McCabe, then the bureau’s acting director, who he voted for in the 2016 election. When McCabe declined to say, Trump reportedly called McCabe’s wife a “loser.”
In previously released text messages, Strzok and Page referred to Trump as an “idiot” and a “loathsome human.”
Both Trump, via Twitter, and the White House seized on those texts, saying they showed bias against Trump by the agents. They worked briefly on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, but were taken off the case last year, in what was seen as an effort by Mueller to avoid the appearance of bias.
In a text exchange between the agents on Nov. 8, 2016, Page wrote, “OMG THIS IS F***ING TERRIFYING” — a reference to Trump’s possible victory. After Clinton conceded the election to Trump, Page wrote: “Omg, I am so depressed.”
Johnson said the messages “raise questions about whether personal political bias may have affected the FBI’s inquiry.”
Democrats have dismissed the charges of bias, contending that the texts show little more than gossip among work colleagues.
In late January, Johnson told CNN that text messages between Strzok and Page suggested there was a “secret society” at the FBI. But the reference in the text to a “secret society” appeared to have been made in jest. According to CNN, the message “referenced a gag gift of Putin-themed calendars that one of the employees purchased for those working on the early stage of the Russia investigation.”
Johnson later backed off his “secret society” claim.
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