A letter worth reading. Carefully.
My thoughts/comments follow.
The document can be found in pdf format here.
According to a cover letter accompanying the documents, the FBI did not preserve text messages between Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok between approximately December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017.
Inspector General Horowitz likely has these texts. I give my thoughts here.
Some intriguing – but not damning – texts:
Ms. Page: And holy shit Cruz just dropped out of the race. It’s going to be a Clinton Trump race. Unbelievable.
Mr. Strzok: Now the pressure really starts to finish MYE.
Ms. Page: It sure does. We need to talk about follow up call tomorrow. We still never have.
The reference to the “MYE” by Mr. Strzok refers to the “midyear exam,” the case name for the Clinton investigation.
The exchange carries more significance now that we know Clinton’s exoneration was pre-planned. More below.
The changing of the draft letter – with a significant omission. Note the date of June 30, 2016. Comey would later claim he did not make the decision to exonerate Clinton until after her interview with FBI Agents – which happened on July 2, 2016 – conducted by Peter Strzok:
Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page discussed the drafting of Director Comey’s July 5 statement exonerating Secretary Clinton. On June 30, 2016, FBI personnel circulated a draft of Director Comey’s statement that noted that Secretary Clinton had emailed with President Obama from the private server while abroad in the “territory of sophisticated adversaries.” The passage read:
We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including from the territory of sophisticated adversaries. That use included an email exchange with the President while Secretary Clinton was on the territory of such an adversary. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.
The same afternoon, after FBI officials edited the draft to replace “the President” with “another senior government official,” Mr. Strzok sent a text message to Ms. Page notifying her of the change.
The FBI will edit the draft yet again.
The following exchange is noteworthy:
Mr. Strzok: K. Rybicki just sent another version.
Ms. Page: Bill just popped his head in, hopefully to talk to him.
Mr. Strzok: Hope so. Just left Bill. Talked about the speech, the [redacted] stuff relating to the case, and what I told you about earlier.
Mr. Strzok: He changed President to “another senior government official.”
Senator Johnson notes the outcome:
Director Comey’s statement as ultimately delivered on July 5 omitted a reference to either President Obama or “another senior government official.“
“Bill” is Bill Priestap – head of FBI Counterintelligence. He held a pivotal role in the FBI’s exoneration of Clinton, the subsequent Trump-Russia Investigation, surveillance of the Trump Campaign and the creation of the Trump Dossier. I discuss him here.
“Rybicki” is FBI Special Agent James Rybicki – Comey’s Chief of Staff and senior counselor.
It’s clear the entire upper echelon of the FBI was involved in “clearing” Clinton of wrongdoing.
Neither of these men were on Devin Nunes’ original request for interviews – although they most definitely should have been. They were added by to the interview list by Deputy AG Rosenstein in his response to Nunes. Discussed here.
Both of these men can provided enormous “insight” – especially Priestap, whom Comey blamed for the FBI decision not to inform Congress of their investigation.
Now we come to Attorney General Loretta Lynch – and obvious collusion between the DOJ and FBI:
The conversations between Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok also appear to suggest that then-Attorney General Lynch was aware that Director Comey would not recommend criminal charges in the Clinton investigation prior to Attorney General Lynch’s announcement that she would accept whatever recommendation the FBI made.
On July 1, 2016 – the same day as Attorney General Lynch’s announcement, but before the FBI had interviewed Secretary Clinton and before Director Comey had announced his recommendation – Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok exchanged the following messages:
Mr. Strzok: Holy cow. . . .nyt breaking Apuzzo, Lync [sic] will accept whatever rec D and career prosecutors make. No political appointee input.
Mr. Strzok: Timing not great, but whatever. Wonder if that’s why the no coordination language added.
Ms. Page: No way. This is a purposeful leak following the airplane snafu.
Mr. Strzok: Timing looks like hell. Will appear to be choreographed. All major news networks literally leading with “AG to accept FBI D’s recommendation.”
Ms. Page: Yeah, that is awful timing. Nothing we can do about it.
Mr. Strzok: What I meant was, did DOJ tell us yesterday they were doing this, so added that language.
Mr. Strzok: Yep. I told Bill the same thing. Delaying just makes it worse.
Ms. Page: And yes. I think we had some warning of it. I know they sent some statement to rybicki, bc he called andy.
Ms. Page: And yeah, it’s a real profile in couragw [sic], since she knows no charges will be brought.
Note that FBI Agent Peter Strzok will be formally interviewing Hillary Clinton on the following day – July 2, 2016. Thus, his alarm over AG Lynch’s timing.
D is FBI Director James Comey. Andy is Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Bill is FBI Counterintelligence Head Bill Priestap. Rybicki is FBI Special Agent James Rybicki – Comey’s Chief of Staff and senior counselor.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch decided in advance to accept the FBI’s statement of exoneration.
she knows no charges will be brought.
The DOJ relayed this decision to the FBI’s Rybicki who informed Comey and McCabe.
did DOJ tell us yesterday they were doing this
yes. I think we had some warning of it. I know they sent some statement to rybicki, bc he called andy.
The decision to exonerate had been made previously – probably some time ago. The decision was not made by the FBI.
The decision was made by Attorney General Lynch. Or someone even higher in the Obama Administration…
The need for, and use of, untraceable communications is noted:
Text messages appear to suggest that Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok used non-FBI-issued devices to discuss FBI business. For example, in April 2016, Ms. Page texted Mr. Strzok:
“so look, you say we text on that phone when we talk about hillary [sic] because it can’t be traced, you were just venting [because] you feel bad that you’re gone so much but it can’t be helped right now”
Mr. Strzok replied:
“Right. But did you say anything other than work? I did, [redacted]”
In addition, Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok reference several times about emailing each other on Gmail.
Under federal law, the head of each federal agency is required to preserve all records documenting the decision-making process and essential transactions of the agency.
Page and Strzok were using burner phones or phones that for some other reason were incapable of being traced.
we text on that phone when we talk about hillary [sic] because it can’t be traced
Now we come to Senator Johnson’s questions:
1. Please explain the scope and scale of all records lost, destroyed, or otherwise alienated during the midyear examination investigation.
We may never know the answer to this question. IG Horowitz does appear to have records of texts the FBI subsequently destroyed.
2. Does the FBI have any records of communications between Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok between December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017? If so, please provide those communications.
The odds are decent that IG Horowitz has these. See here.
3. Has the FBI conducted searches of Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page’s non-FBI-issued communication devices or accounts to determine whether federal records exist on those non-official accounts? Please explain how the FBI is complying with federal records requirements with respect to these devices.
So many questions here. How do we know what devices they had. Can this be discerned from NSA records. How many FBI Agents were using non-FBI-issued, “off-the-record” or untraceable devices. How long has this been unofficially allowed.
Did Comey, McCabe, Priestap and Rybicki communicate this way also. What about AG Loretta Lynch.
4. Has the FBI produced text messages to the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (DOJ OIG) of any other FBI employees in furtherance of the DOJ review of the Clinton email investigation? If so, please identify which FBI employees’ communications were produced.
The answer is most certainly yes. But who are they, what do the texts say and how many are there. Remember, DOJ Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr was demoted – twice. And top FBI lawyer, General Counsel James Baker, was essentially fired…
5. Has the FBI produced Microsoft Lync conversations between Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok to the DOJ. Please explain.
Lync is Skype. If these exist, I can only imagine. Think of how much more is said in a conversation versus the conciseness of a text – or the carefulness of a penned document…
Senator Johnson closes with this:
S. Res. 62 (115th Congress) authorizes the Committee to examine “the efficiency and economy of all branches of the Government including the possible existence of fraud, misfeasance, malfeasance, collusion, mismanagement, incompetence, corruption, or unethical practices….”
It would seem they have a stunning amount to look at.
I’d start with Loretta Lynch.
Prepare for an ever-increasing level of disclosure.