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Furor Over Missing FBI Texts, 'Secret Society' Reference

The president calls it 'one of the biggest stories in a long time'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2018 10:41 AM CST
Trump: Missing FBI Texts 'One of the Biggest Stories'
In this April 21, 2017, file photo, President Trump poses for a portrait in the Oval Office in Washington after an interview with the AP.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

(Newser) – The texts called Donald Trump a "loathsome human"—but what did the missing texts say? That's what the Justice Department is trying to find out following the weekend revelation that five months' worth of messages between veteran FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page have thus far proved unretrievable. Strzok was pulled from Robert Mueller's Russia probe over the texts, which were exchanged with Page. The two ripped on Trump, as well as other political figures, but the FBI discovered the system that archives texts didn't do so between Dec. 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017, the latter being the date Mueller was appointed special counsel. Now, reaction from the president, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and others:

  • Trump's tweet: "In one of the biggest stories in a long time, the FBI says it is now missing five months worth of lovers Strzok - Page texts, perhaps 50,000, all in prime time. Wow!" the president tweeted Tuesday. Politico notes that the number of missing texts isn't known; 50,000 is the figure Strzok and Page exchanged that were recovered.

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  • Sessions' word on the matter: The attorney general vowed a full investigation into the lost texts Monday night, reports the Wall Street Journal. "We will leave no stone unturned to confirm with certainty why these text messages are not now available to be produced and will use every technology available to determine whether the missing messages are recoverable," Sessions said in a statement.
  • The issue: GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, who heads the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked FBI Director Christopher Wray for an explanation in a weekend letter. The DOJ cited "misconfiguration issues" that apparently affected the FBI's ability to preserve messages from Samsung 5 mobile phones during the period in question, the Journal notes.
  • More GOP reaction: Politico highlights a statement made by a trio of House Republicans—Devin Nunes, Trey Gowdy, and Bob Goodlatte, who lead the Intelligence, Oversight, and Judiciary committees, respectively—that called the missing texts "concerning" and said they now "further question the credibility and objectivity of certain officials at the FBI." Per Politico, the three over the weekend talked about the groundswell on the right over potentially going public with a classified memo put together by Intelligence Committee staffers that alleges misconduct among the upper ranks of the FBI and DOJ.
  • 'Secret society': Gowdy and GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe appeared Monday on Fox News' The Story With Martha MacCallum and said Strzok and Page made a reference to a "secret society" within the FBI and DOJ in a text sent the day after Trump's victory. Per Ratcliffe, the gist of the text was that the "society" included Strzok and Page and would be working to counter Trump. "I'm not saying that actually happened, but when folks speak in those terms, they need to come forward to explain the context with which they used those terms," he said.
(Read more Peter Strzok stories.)

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