- Spencer Platt/Getty Images
- Peter Strzok, the FBI official ousted from the Russia probe, exchanged more than 50,000 text messages with FBI lawyer Lisa Page during and after the 2016 election.
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions made that announcement on Monday after it was revealed that the FBI failed to preserve five months worth of text messages between Strzok and Page.
- Strzok – who played critical roles in both the Clinton email probe and the Russia investigation – and Page have been vilified for being critical of Donald Trump in their months-long text-message chain.
- Strzok has since been removed from the Russia probe, but Trump allies in Congress and in the media have sought to frame the controversy as evidence that the Russia probe is politically biased against Trump.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Monday that Peter Strzok, the FBI official ousted from the Russia probe over anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page had exchanged text messages with Page more than 50,000 times.
Sessions said in a statement provided to Fox News that the matter is being investigated in light of earlier revelations that the FBI failed to preserve five months worth of text messages shared between Strzok and Page.
“We will leave no stone unturned to confirm with certainty why these text messages are now not available to be produced and will use every technology available to determine whether the missing messages are recoverable from another source,” Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation, said on Monday.
Strzok and Page have been the focus of fierce condemnation from Trump’s allies in Congress and in the media, who have sought to frame the Russia investigation as politically biased against the president.
The matter has prompted calls for a second special counsel to investigate potential bias against Trump among the prosecutors participating in the probe of Russia’s US-election interference being led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller, who is a registered Republican, was quick to remove Strzok from the Russia investigation, but has nonetheless faced blistering rebukes from Trump’s allies, many of whom have, at turns, called for Mueller’s firing and floated the idea of purging the FBI of agents suspected of opposing Trump.
House representatives Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, and Devin Nunes of California raised alarms about the developments in a statement that read in part: “The contents of these text messages between top FBI officials are extremely troubling in terms of when certain key decisions were made by the Department of Justice and the FBI, by whom these decisions were made, and the evident bias by those in charge of the investigation.”
“Rather than clearing up prior FBI and DOJ actions, these recently produced documents cause us to further question the credibility and objectivity of certain officials at the FBI,” the statement read.
Experts have scoffed at such public questioning of the FBI’s credibility, Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth reported earlier Monday.
Those experts pointed out that the Strzok-Page text messages don’t change the facts and evidence already produced in the Russia probe, which seeks to shed light on interference from Moscow in the 2016 US election and determine whether the Trump campaign cooperated with Russia.