Newly declassified text messages from former FBI agent Peter Strzok suggest that the FBI began investigating then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and his campaign before the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was opened.
The messages, which Senate Republicans released Thursday, provide new insights into the thinking of investigators who worked on Crossfire Hurricane, the code name for the investigation into the Trump campaign.
While the FBI claims that investigations into Trump’s campaign began with the opening of Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016, communications between Strzok and his alleged mistress, FBI special counsel Lisa Page, show that the agent asked Page to discuss “[o]ur open C[counter-]I[ntelligence] investigations relating to Trump’s Russian connections” with him on July 28, 2016.
The declassified documents also show that Strzok was provided with real-time updates as FBI agents or undercover sources were meeting with Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papaodpoulos, who were early targets of the investigation.
Leftist media networks such as the New York Times suggested that there was no evidence that agents like Strzok were “eager to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign” and that it was former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos’s comments that sparked the investigation.
Former FBI Director James Comey has denied knowledge of any investigation until “sometime towards the end of September 2016.”
According to The Federalist:
Previously declassified communications from Strzok, however, show the FBI employees’ strong dislike and criticism of Trump as a presidential candidate. In a string of 2016 messages, just weeks after the formal investigation was opened, Page asked Strzok, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” to which he replied: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
Strzok was told via text in December of 2016 that the DOJ’s Office of Intelligence, “made it clear [REDACTED] would not support even our discussions let alone a [FISA] app” relating to Papadopoulos.
Other text messages released by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, on Thursday, show more information related to the FBI’s investigation into now-disproven Russian collusion by the Trump campaign.
In another text from September of 2016, Strzok was informed that allegations that a Trump organization server was secretly communicating with Russian agents are “no longer pointing to any active mail server.”
Strzok also knew that there were “27 confirmed classified TOTAL (26 to ClintonEmail, 1 to Yahoo): -6 of the 27 were SECRET then (4 of which remain SECRET now and 2 of which are CONFIDENTIAL) – 21 of the 27 were CONFIDENTIAL then (16 of which remain CONFIDENTIAL now and 5 of which are UNCLASS or FOUO)” on Clinton’s private email server.
In addition to stoking the investigation into Russian collusion, Strzok is also responsible for reopening a criminal counterintelligence investigation into former National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn even though an FBI memorandum previously closed the case after “no derogatory information was identified in FBI holdings.”
Republican Sens. Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley had asked Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray to declassify the documents on Oct. 30, to help with their investigation of Crossfire Hurricane. The Justice Department declassified the records on Dec. 1.
Strzok’s messages, which are from the FBI’s Lync system, also contain numerous references to Christopher Steele, the former British spy whose dossier the FBI used to obtain surveillance warrants against Carter Page.
One message suggests that Strzok knew early on that Steele was a source for a story published in Yahoo! News alleging that Page had a secret meeting in Moscow with two Kremlin insiders.
“Looking at the Yahoo article, I would definitely say at a minimum Steele’s reports should be viewed as intended to influence as well as to inform,” Strzok wrote on Sept. 23, 2016.
4/ by Sep 23, 2016, Strzok was aware that Steele's operation was intended to "influence" in addition to "informing". An influence operation should have triggered safeguards within FBI. It should also have triggered FARA. pic.twitter.com/JrIGL83Dm7
— Stephen McIntyre (@ClimateAudit) December 17, 2020
Strzok, who was fired from the FBI in August 2018, was referring to a report from Yahoo! News about Page’s visit to Moscow in July 2016.
It would later be revealed that Christopher Steele was a source for the article and that he had met with a handful of journalists in Washington, D.C. as part of an opposition research campaign commissioned by the DNC and Clinton campaign.