More text messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page have been released by the Justice Department’s Inspector General. Page, an FBI attorney, and Strzok, a counterintelligence agent, were assigned to the special counsel investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The latest release includes texts that were previously thought lost. The most significant – but not singular – revelation is that former President Barack Obama wanted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to fully inform him of their activities relating to a then-ongoing investigation.
Which investigation Obama had such an interest in is not clear. At that time, the FBI had re-opened its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email servers, and the most common assumption is that the then-president must have requested a briefing on the Bureau’s progress. Whatever the subject of Obama’s attention, it flies in the face of his assertion: “I do not talk to FBI directors about pending investigations.”
Obama Can’t Get His Story Straight
Of course, Obama also claimed that he was unaware of Clinton’s use of a personal email server until he read media reports about it. This was proven to be a dishonest statement when it was discovered that he had sent several emails to Clinton, using her personal domain name.
On September 2, 2016, Page texted Strzok to draw his attention to an upcoming meeting she was scheduled to attend. Strzok replied, speculating that the purpose of the meeting was “TPs [talking points] for D [FBI Director James Comey]?” Page responded, “Yes, bc potus wants to know everything we are doing.”
Another revelation from the new batch of released texts raises more questions about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton investigation. In a message dated September 28, Strzok told Page that “hundreds of thousands of emails” were turned over to the Southern District of New York by Anthony Weiner’s attorney. Weiner, the husband of Clinton’s closest advisor, Huma Abedin, was under investigation for inappropriate contact with a minor. Strzok told Page the emails contained “a ton of material from spouse [Abedin],” and continued, “Sending team up tomorrow to review… this will never end.”
The Questions Keep Piling Up
It was not until October 28 that Comey informed Congress he was re-opening the investigation into Clinton’s email use, citing “recent developments.” In his statement to lawmakers, Comey said he had been told about the new emails just the previous day.
Both Page and Strzok were reassigned from the special counsel investigation back to the FBI after text messages between them were first found to contain anti-Trump sentiment so fervent that their capability for objectiveness was gravely doubted. Both officials described then-candidate Trump – as well as his supporters – in derogatory and insulting terms and expressed dread and panic that he might become president.
As the FBI-Clinton affair continues to unfold – or, perhaps, unravel – the text messages between lovers Page and Strzok continue to highlight irregularities in the way the Clinton investigation was handled. Several new questions arise. Why did the FBI unit assigned to the Clinton probe wait an entire month before informing their chief that more emails had been discovered on a laptop shared by Abedin and Weiner? If, in fact, Comey was immediately told about the discovery of the Abedin emails – and the Strzok texts confirm that Deputy Director Andrew McCabe knew about them – why did he wait an entire month to re-open the investigation? Why did Comey tell lawmakers that he had only been informed of the discovery just the day before he spoke with them?
As for Barack Obama, why did he lie when he stated that he never spoke with either his Attorney General or his FBI Director about pending investigations? The Page text makes it clear that Director Comey was preparing to meet with the president, who “wants to know everything we are doing.” Even before the Inspector General delivers his findings – possibly sometime in March or April – on the Bureau’s conduct relating to the Clinton investigation, many more details are likely to surface. Strzok himself may have been unwittingly prophetic: This will never end.