Some missing text messages between FBI employees recovered, DOJ says

Credit: Chip Somodevilla

Credit: Chip Somodevilla

Some text messages between a pair of FBI employees, including one who was part of the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump, have been recovered, Justice Department officials said in a letter sent Thursday to lawmakers.

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In a letter addressed to Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Inspector General Michael Horowitz said authorities were able to recover some of the text messages sent between Strzok and Page.

“Our effort to recover any additional text messages is ongoing,” Horowitz wrote. “We will provide copies of the text message that we recover from these devices to the department so that the department’s leadership can take any management action it deems appropriate.”

Lawmakers raised questions after learning in a letter dated Jan. 19 that a misconfiguration of software upgrades on FBI-issued cellphones meant that messages between employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page did not get captured for five months, between Dec. 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017. Strzok and Page were in a romantic relationship, according to CNN.

Both Strzok and Page were part of the FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while in office.

In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, dated Jan. 20, Johnson wrote that the missing messages were concerning because “it is apparent from other records that Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page communicated frequently about the investigation” into Clinton’s emails.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, called the Justice Department’s explanation for failing to capture messages between Strzok and Page “a ‘my dog ate my homework’-level excuse.”

"Americans deserve to know if there was rampant anti-Trump bias at the FBI, and certainly if there was an effort to cover it up," he told Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree.

In a tweet sent Tuesday, Trump also asked to know what had happened to the missing text messages.

Strzok, who had been assigned to work on Mueller's team, was removed last summer following the discovery of anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with Page. By the time the messages were found, Page had already finished her stint on Mueller's team, according to CNN.

Read the letter sent by Horowitz on Thursday: