Remember the anti-Trump text messages that were exchanged between disgraced former FBI special agent Peter Strzok and disgraced former FBI attorney Lisa Page? It turns out even more of them exist than was previously known.
Indeed, these new texts are part of a Russiagate binder that then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows ordered to be declassified during former President Donald Trump’s final days in office.
“In Mr. Trump’s last weeks in office, Mr. Meadows, with the president’s blessing, prodded federal law enforcement agencies to declassify a binder of Crossfire Hurricane materials that included unreleased information about the F.B.I.’s investigative steps and text messages between two former top F.B.I. officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page,” The New York Times reported Saturday.
“The F.B.I. worried that releasing more information could compromise the bureau, according to people familiar with the debate. Mr. Meadows dismissed those arguments, saying that Mr. Trump himself wanted the information declassified and disseminated.”
As a reminder, Crossfire Hurricane is the official name of the Russiagate investigation.
Then President #Trump issued this memorandum 1/19/2021 on declassification FBI Crossfire Hurricane records. Circulated to AG, DNI, CIA. May now be relevant once full holdings from Monday search at Mar-a-Largo catalogued. https://t.co/riiagd8ct6 pic.twitter.com/T8YKrZptS7
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) August 12, 2022
The binder was ultimately declassified, albeit with redactions. However, the texts were never disseminated, thanks in part to the Department of Justice, which warned Meadows of the consequences of distributing the texts.
“Mr. Meadows intended to give the binder to at least one conservative journalist, according to multiple people familiar with his plan. But he reversed course after Justice Department officials pointed out that disseminating the messages between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page could run afoul of privacy law, opening officials up to suits,” according to the Times.
It’s not clear how this would be the case given that many of Strzok and Page’s texts had already been released by this time.
To this day, the remaining texts remain elusive. And making matters worse, current President Joe Biden now has the authority to reclassify them.
That order, if it exists, can be overruled now by Biden. https://t.co/8NzBZI2Jgk
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) August 20, 2022
The Times’ findings come about two weeks after the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property. According to the Times, the agents didn’t find any Russiagate documents there.
That being said, there’s a growing belief that the raid was predicated in part on an effort to keep Russiagate documents from ever seeing the light of day.
Speaking on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” last weekend, former Trump administration official Kash Patel explained that by launching a new investigation into Trump, the Biden administration has made the binder untouchable.
“Now that this is an ‘ongoing counterintelligence investigation,’ they will come out to the American public and be able to say ‘ongoing CI investigation — you will never be allowed to see the Russiagate docs or any other docs that President Trump lawfully declassified.’ And they will hide it from the public,” he said.
He added that it’s going to be up to House Republicans to get hold of the documents once they take control of the lower chamber of Congress in January.
The good news is that House Republicans are ready to go.
“Attorney General Garland: Preserve your documents and clear your calendar. When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned,” current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted earlier this month.
Attorney General Garland: preserve your documents and clear your calendar. pic.twitter.com/dStAjnwbAT
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 9, 2022
Rep. Dan Crenshaw issued a similar statement this weekend.
“We’re gonna hold a lot of oversights like [Republican Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy said – Merrick Garland, you better get your parking spot ready, better save all your documents, because there’s gonna be a lot of oversight when we retake the House. That’s exactly the right move,” he told Fox News.
The only ones who’ve sought to defend the raid have been Democrats and their allies, including, ironically but not surprisingly enough, Strzok.
It’s no surprise given how virulently anti-Trump his infamous texts had been. It is however quite stunning to many on the right to see the media blindly champion him as a legitimate source of commentary and analysis like MSNBC recently did:
MSNBC’s Morning Joe brings on @PeterStrzok to argue on behalf of the FBI’s integrity: “It’s not that the FBI is targeting any one side or the other. What you see is the FBI going out on a day-in and day-out basis objectively investigating allegations of law.” pic.twitter.com/bIyBladBMg
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) August 15, 2022
This is the same guy who was ousted from the Russiagate investigation because of his anti-Trump bias. Bias so troubling that DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz said he was “deeply troubled” by Strzok and Page’s text message exchanges.
The messages “potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations,” he said in 2018.
He added that Strzok’s behavior was “antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice.”
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