The FBI is refusing to pursue work-related text messages and emails sent on the personal devices of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page - the FBI "lovebirds" discovered to harbor extreme political bias for Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump while actively involved in cases against each candidate during the 2016 US election. Clinton was of course exonerated by the FBI despite overwhelming evidence of criminal conduct, while Trump's entire presidency has been tainted by the spectre of unproven Russian collusion.
Over 50,000 text messages between Strzok and Page were discovered by the Department of Justice's internal watchdog, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), leading to their removal from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation - which has since devolved into trying to embarrass the President over allegedly paying a porn star not to discuss consensual sex. Of note, Page tendered her resignation on Friday.
In a Wednesday letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the FBI was not "obligated" to collect all communications between employees, and would not be pursuing communications Strzok and Page sent to each other on their personal devices.
In response, Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) went nuclear - reminding Wray in a Friday letter cc'd to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that "Although, as your letter notes, the FBI is not "obligated" to collect all communications between employees, it is obligated to collect and preserve federal records."
Grassley goes on to note that previously released text messages between Strzok and Page "show substantial reason to believe government work was performed on non-government systems during the course of a high-profile investigation," and that those communications could prove vital to the Committee's investigation.
The work-related communications on nongovernment systems could shed more light on how the FBI handled the Clinton investigation and would constitute federal records that the FBI would be obligated to retrieve and preserve under the Federal Records Act. -Sen. Grassley to FBI Director Wray
The letter then provides several examples in which Strzok and Page explicitly referred to exchanging work-related information over their personal devices.
"For example, in two text messages Strzok said to Page:"
Gmailed you two drafts of what I’m thinking of sending Bill, would appreciate your thoughts. Second (more recent) is updated so you can skip the first.
Yep. Sent something to your gmail, work-related. Think I’m going to pull here and send to Kortan….
"In another text message, Strzok and Page appear to use the encrypted iMessage application on their personal Apple devices to discuss work-related material:"
Strzok: Want to imsg it to me, or want to do it in person?
Page: It’s not that sensitive.
Strzok: Ok. You can imsg just for convenience of typing, too, if you want
Strzok: And I have no good, awful, sh*tty terrible (work) news. I can’t say it here, and you can’t share with Andy (yet). I’m upset.
Page: Can you share it on imsg?
Strzok: Yes just sent[.]8
Grassley then excoriates the FBI - comparing Strzok and Page's use of personal devices for work purposes to Hillary Clinton's mishandling of classified information on her personal server - which Strzok and Page were investigating.
"Under 18 U.S.C. § 2071, it is illegal to willfully and unlawfully conceal, remove, or destroy a federal record. Secretary Clinton alienated thousands of federal records when she used a nongovernment server and email for official work, many of which were deleted rather than returned to the State Department when the Department requested them. Ironically, as FBI employees tasked with investigating Clinton’s similar conduct, Strzok and Page appear to have used nongovernment systems for official work as well. This Committee has yet to receive a satisfactory explanation as to why the FBI apparently let Secretary Clinton off the hook for multiple § 2071 violations. It is disturbing that even at this late date, and with all the litigation surrounding Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business, the FBI seems similarly uninterested in even attempting to retrieve federal records of its own employees that appear to have been alienated as well."
Grassley then asks three questions of Wray, noting that he expects the response to be unclassified:
- Why has the FBI not requested from Ms. Page or Mr. Strzok any official work-related material from their personal devices and email accounts?
- Why has the FBI not conducted searches of non-FBI-issued communications devices or non-FBI email accounts associated with Mr. Strzok or Ms. Page for official work-related material?
- The FBI’s May 3, 2018, response letter also failed to answer questions 1-5, 8, and 11. Please provide answers and the requested documentation by the deadline.
Full letter below