A New report by the DOJ reveals that they were unable to recover text messages from anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok and his lover, FBI attorney Lisa Page, who was also virulently anti-Trump, during the time period that they were working on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Peter Strzok wasn’t some low-level, hack agent at the FBI, he was the Chief of the Counterespionage Section. He also led the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server and the Russian election interference investigation. Strzok rose in the ranks to become the Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, the second-highest position in that division.
A December 11 2018, OIG report that’s been redacted for the public, reveals that iPhones issued by the special counsel’s office to Strzok and Page were reset after they left the special counsel probe in July 2017, making it impossible to retrieve text messages sent and received on those devices.
From the OIG report:
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DOJ-issued iPhones six months earlier when their assignments to the SCO had ended. The 010 was told that the DOJ issued iPhone previously assigned to Strzok had been re-issued to another FBI agent following Strzok’s departure from the SCO. The SCO obtained the iPhone from that individual and provided it to the010. CYBER obtained a forensic extraction of the iPhone previously assigned to Strzok; however. this iPhone had been reset to factory settings and was reconfigured for the new user to whom the device was issued. It did not contain data related to Strzok’s use of the device. SCO’s Records Officer told the 010that as part of the office’s records retention procedure, the officer reviewed Strzok’s DOJ issued iPhone after he returned it to the SCO and determined it contained no substantive text messages.
The SCO was unable to locate the iPhone previously assigned to Page, which had been returned to DOJ’s Justice Management Division (JMD). Subsequently, in early September 2018, JMD informed the OIG that it hadlocatedtheiPhonethathadbeenassignedtoPage. The OIG took custody of the device. Page’siPhonehad been reset to factory settings on July 31, 2017, but had not been reissued to a new user. (The Office of the Deputy Attorney General told the OJG that the Department routinely resets mobile devices to factory settings when the device is returned from a user to enable that device to be issued to another user in the future.) The OJG forensic review of the phone determined that it did not contain any data related to Page’s use of the device. SCO’s Records Otlicer stated that she did not receive the phone following Page’s departure from the $CO and therefore she did not review Page’s iPhone for records that would possibly need to be retained prior to the phone having been reset.
According to the Daily Caller, Peter Strzok joined special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in early June 2017 and was removed in late July of that year after Horowitz informed the special counsel about the FBI officials’ anti-Trump messages. Page, who served as general counsel to then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, was detailed to Mueller’s investigation May 28, 2017. She left July 15, 2017, and since resigned from the bureau.
The new OIG report focuses mostly on a five-month gap in messages between Strzok and Page. When investigators began looking at Strzok and Page’s FBI-issued phones, they found no messages from Dec. 13, 2016, to May 17, 2017, the same day Mueller was appointed special counsel.
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. The OIG did not dispute the FBI’s claims about why the messages were missing from the phones.
The phone Strzok used while he was on the Mueller team was inspected by a records officer with the special counsel, who found no “substantive” messages on the device. Page’s device was only recovered by the inspector general in September. It had been reset to factory settings July 31, 2017.
As we’ve come to expect, the FBI agrees with the OIG report that suggests they don’t believe there was any foul play, as it relates to the text messages that were wiped off the phones of Strzok and Page.
The FBI accepts the fact that not all texts between Ms. Page and Mr. Strozk were collected by the FBl’s text collection tool but appreciates and agrees with the OIG’s conclusion and explanation that the content oftext messages exchanged between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page did not appear to be a factor in their collection, or lack thereof. Further, the
OIG did not find that the gaps in collection were intentional on the part ofthe FBI or any FBI personnel.
It’s interesting to note, that on February 1, 2018, Sara Carter reported;
Newly released text messages between a pair of FBI anti-Trump officials at the center of the Russia investigation controversy show that they sought to “get around” rules established by the government to preserve text messages, stating that none of the agencies abide by the rules then “why should we.”
Former FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page discussed getting new Apple iPhones, in lieu of their Samsung 5 government issued phones in text messages they exchanged in August 2016. They noted in the texts that the new phones would help keep their text messages from government collection after speaking with the FBI’s IT director, according to newly released August 2016 text messages.
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