The FBI mysteriously "failed to preserve" five months of text messages between a senior FBI agent who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation and his mistress, an FBI lawyer.
The Department of Justice made the disclosure in a letter to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday, according to the Daily Caller. The letter states that FBI systems didn't preserve text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
"The Department wants to bring to your attention that the FBI’s technical system for retaining text messages sent and received on FBI mobile devices failed to preserve text messages for Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page," the letter states. Stephen Boyd, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, penned the letter.
Citing "misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities," Boyd explained that "data that should have been automatically collected and retained for long-term storage and retrieval was not collected."
Ironically, the missing text messages are from Dec. 14, 2016 to May 17, 2017. The time period is significant because it represents the time when the Trump-Russia allegations were heating up through the time Mueller was appointed special counsel. In fact, Mueller was appointed on May 17, 2017.
According to the Washington Post, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who chairs the HSGAC, received a new batch of text messages late Friday. In a response letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Johnson wanted to know why the FBI did not preserve the text messages from the missing the five month period.
"The loss of records from this period is concerning," Johnson wrote to the FBI on Saturday, according to the Daily Caller.
Johnson's committee is investigating the FBI's handling of the Clinton email probe.
Who are Strzok and Page?
Strzok, as a senior FBI official, worked on both the Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations. He became the top investigator on the Trump-Russia case in July 2016 just weeks wrapping up his work as one of the top investigators in the Clinton probe.
He was removed from Mueller's investigation last summer after the DOJ inspector general learned of anti-Trump text messages he had exchanged with Page, whom he was having an extramarital affair with.
Page was also a part of Mueller's team, but left before the text messages were discovered.
What new text messages were revealed Friday?
According to the Associated Press, the DOJ provided Johnson's committee with 384 pages of new text messages. One of the new messages mentions a language change in the statement then-FBI Director James Comey would read to America exonerating Hillary Clinton of any wrongdoing in the email probe.
More from the AP:
In another exchange, the two express displeasure about the timing of Lynch’s announcement that she would defer to the FBI’s judgment on the Clinton investigation. That announcement came days after it was revealed that the attorney general and former President Bill Clinton had an impromptu meeting aboard her plane in Phoenix, though both sides said the email investigation was never discussed.
Strzok said in a July 1 text message that the timing of Lynch’s announcement “looks like hell.” And Page appears to mockingly refer to Lynch’s decision to accept the FBI’s conclusion in the case as a “real profile in courag(e) since she knows no charges will be brought.”