The missing text messages that the Department of Justice announced it had found Thursday show FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page didn't want to be too tough on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the investigation into her private email server.
Roughly 50,000 text messages spanning from Dec. 14, 2016, to May 17, 2017, went missing from Strzok and Page's FBI-issued mobile phones.
Strzok and Page, who were having an extramarital affair, both served on the team investigating Clinton's use of a private email server and worked on the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The FBI blamed the missing messages on a technical glitch. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced in a letter that the texts between the pair were successfully recovered using “forensics tools.”
The messages are considered to be a critical part of FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Russian probe because of previously released messages between Strzok and Page containing political bias against President Donald Trump.
In the latest batch of messages released, the two FBI officials discussed the possibility of then-presidential candidate Clinton winning the election and the backlash they could receive if they were too tough on her.
Strzok was one of the lead investigators in the Clinton case.
"One more thing: she might be our next president," Page texted Strzok on Feb. 25, 2016. "The last thing you need [is] going in there loaded for bear. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more [DOJ] than [FBI]?"
Strzok said he "agreed" in his reply to Page.
Strzok was removed from the Russia probe last year after the DOJ inspector general learned of the anti-Trump messages the pair exchanged.
Page left Mueller's team after her detail ended in July.