Senate Republicans on Thursday released a new batch of declassified internal FBI messages from Peter Strzok, the disgraced former FBI official who was involved in the counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump and his alleged collusion with Russian agents.
The declassified documents, first reported by the Daily Caller, appear to show that the FBI began investigating Trump sometime before its Crossfire Hurricane investigation was opened. The FBI has previously claimed its counterintelligence investigation into Trump began on July 31, 2016, after receiving information that George Papadopoulos obtained "dirt" on Hillary Clinton from Russia involving "thousands of emails."
But the Federalist's Sean Davis pointed out that newly declassified text message conversations between Strozk and his alleged mistress FBI special counsel Lisa Page reveal there were open counterintelligence investigations "relating to Trump's Russian connections" as early as July 28, 2016.
The text messages raise questions about how honest the FBI was to the American public and to investigators probing the origins of Crossfire Hurricane.
These documents were declassified by request of Republican Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray as the senators lead an investigation into the origins of the Crossfire Hurricane probe.
President Trump and his Republican allies have long claimed that the Russia probe was a politically biased effort by the outgoing Obama administration, the Hillary Clinton campaign for president, and the Democratic National Committee to spy on the Trump campaign and collect information Democrats would later use as part of an impeachment effort against President Trump. They have leveled fierce criticism at the FBI, accusing the agency of presenting a Clinton campaign-funded opposition research document compromised by Russian disinformation — otherwise known as the "Steele Dossier" — to a FISA court judge to obtain warrants to surveil members of the Trump campaign.
Amid the controversy over the investigation, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz last year released a report on the origins of the Crossfire Hurricane probe. While he did not find evidence of political bias in the decision to open investigations into the Trump campaign, he raised serious concerns about how the FBI obtained a FISA warrant.
His report said FBI employees "fell far short" of bureau policy that requires they "ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are 'scrupulously accurate.'" In fact, the FISA court applications contained "numerous serious factual errors and omissions in the applications." Additionally, the Horowitz report highlighted several instances of procedural errors on the part of the FBI officials involved in the investigation.
Attorney General Barr in October appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel to continue investigating the origins of Crossfire Hurricane under President-elect Biden's incoming administration. Earlier this week reports said Durham is adding additional prosecutors to his probe, suggesting that his investigation is expanding and making "excellent progress."