(National Sentinel) Full Nondisclosure: The Justice Department has only turned over a fraction of the “missing” texts exchanged between FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Stzrok and his mistress, lawyer Lisa Page.
As reported by Byron York at the Washington Examiner, the DoJ has only given lawmakers about 15 percent of five months’ worth of missing messages that the FBI said were lost from thousands of department cellphones due to a data backup glitch.
What’s more, that may be all Congress gets — at least for the time being, until bureau cyber-forensic experts manage to recover more of the messages, York noted, adding that it is not yet clear how many Strzok-Page texts there are and how many of those contain more anti-Trump, anti-administration content.
“The answers are complicated, but here is what I have been able to figure out from conversations with the Justice Department and Capitol Hill investigators,” he wrote, adding:
The Justice Department has identified about 50,000 Strzok-Page texts. But that is apart from the texts between Dec. 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017, that were declared missing a week ago but are now being recovered. So, the total is apparently 50,000 plus the currently unknown number of formerly missing texts.
But that number refers only to the Strzok-Page texts that were sent and received on FBI-issued Samsung phones. There are a number of instances in the texts in which the two officials say that they should switch the conversation to iMessage, suggesting they continued to talk about FBI matters on personal Apple phones. For investigators, those are particularly intriguing texts – what was so sensitive that they couldn’t discuss on their work phones? – but the number of those texts is unknown. And of course, they have not been turned over to Congress.
Thus far, York says it is estimated that around 7,000 texts have been turned over, a figure that includes messages given to Congress on two occasions. If there are around 50,000 messages, that means lawmakers have only been given about 15 percent of the total.
That’s because, according to a Jan. 19 letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to Capitol Hill investigators, not all texts were going to be handed over in the first place.
“The department is not providing text messages that were purely personal in nature,” Boyd wrote. “Furthermore, the department has redacted from some work-related text messages portions that were purely personal. The department’s aim in withholding purely personal text messages and redacting personal portions of work-related text messages was primarily to facilitate the committee’s access to potentially relevant text messages without having to cull through large quantities of material unrelated to either the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server or the investigation into Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.”
Also, York noted that Boyd informed investigators that the department consulted with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, in order to and made some redactions “related to the structure, operation, and substance of the [Special Counsel’s Office]’s investigation because it is ongoing.”
Hill investigators have said they’re not at all sure how broad that restriction is. However, the DOJ said that if lawmakers had questions about key redactions, the department would “work with” Congress to explain or reveal redacted information “in a closed setting.”
York then reminds readers of the key events that took place during the period of time text messages have gone missing:
The time period involved, Dec. 14, 2016 to May 17, 2017, covered some of the key moments in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump-Russia affair: conversations between Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak; the completion and publication of the intelligence community assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election; the briefing in which FBI director James Comey told President-elect Donald Trump about the Trump dossier; the president’s inauguration; the nomination and confirmation of new Justice Department leadership; Flynn’s interview with the FBI (conducted by Strzok); Comey’s assurances to Trump that he, Trump, was not under investigation; a variety of revelations, mostly in the Washington Post and New York Times, about various Trump figures under investigation; Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe; the firing of top Obama Justice Department holdover Sally Yates; Trump’s tweet alleging he was wiretapped; Trump’s firing of Comey; and, finally, the appointment of Mueller.
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