The Department of Justice inspector general released a report Thursday revealing that thousands of text messages sent by fired FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page were not preserved, creating a gap in the investigation into misconduct at the bureau.
The OIG report states that the cellphones issued by the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office to Strzok and Page were reset after the two were removed from the probe, following the revelation they had exchanged anti-Trump texts during the 2016 presidential race.
The Daily Caller reported the absence of text messages from a crucial period of time after the election prevents Congress and the public from seeing whether Strzok and Page’s sentiments carried over into their work on Mueller’s probe.
“The FBI chalked the missing text messages up to a glitch that affected the message retention system on many FBI-issued phones. Government forensic analysts were able to recover many texts from the missing period,” according to The Daily Caller.
“The OIG did not dispute the FBI’s claims about why the messages were missing from the phones.”
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote in the report that his office initiated this investigation into the lost text messages “upon being notified of a gap in text message data collection during the period December 15, 2016 through May 17, 2017.”
“Specifically, the OIG’s Cyber Investigations Office was asked to attempt recovery of these missing text message for the referenced period from FBI issued mobile devices issued to Strzok and Page.”
Horowitz added, “The OIG forensically recovered thousands of text messages from FBI mobile devices issued to Strzok and Page through its multiple extraction efforts. Approximately 9,311 text messages were recovered from Strzok’s S5 (Samsung),” while, “Approximately 10,760 text messages were recovered from Page’s S5.”
Anti-Trump texts between the two former FBI officials first began to be made public in December 2017.
In one of the most stunning exchanges, Page questioned Strzok, with whom she was having an extramarital affair, “(Trump’s) not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”
He responded, “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
In another text, Page referred to the then-Republican presidential candidate as “a loathsome human,” and Strzok called him a “f–king idiot.”
In still another exchange, Strzok referenced an “insurance policy,” writing Page, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
Strzok reportedly told the OIG that Andy was former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the “insurance policy” Strzok was texting about was the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia.
The FBI fired Strzok in August, while Page resigned from the bureau in May.