Judicial Watch has done it again. We now have even more texts and emails between former FBI official Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page, who were having an affair during the time they were targeting Donald Trump, first as a hated candidate and later as President-elect. These two were texting and emailing each other so much that it’s hard to imagine they ever got any work done, but somehow they managed. At this point, I’ve lost track of the number of communications we’ve seen that relate to abuse of FBI power.
The emails we’re just now seeing –- still heavily redacted, unfortunately –- were written right around the time of Trump’s inauguration, with some concerning a White House intelligence briefing of the new President. Besides including Strzok and Page, these emails were circulated among then-deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Assistant Director for the Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap, and others as well. The frantic flurry of communications going on just before and after Trump’s inauguration testifies to the mood among top FBI officials at that time.
I’d say the most interesting email of all is that from Strzok about the White House briefing --- one that could “play into” the FBI’s “investigative strategy.” The exchanges leading up to it, written the night before the inauguration, are heavily redacted (NOTE to FBI Director Wray: these redactions obviously are for the FBI’s own “CYA” and are not acceptable), but then, we see that on January 21, 2017, the day after Trump was sworn in, Strzok forwarded to Lisa Page and another person (name redacted) an email he’d sent earlier that day to Priestap, asking them to “not forward/share.” Strzok had written Priestap in reference to the White House briefing: “...I am angry that Jen [counterintelligence official Jennifer Boone] did not at least cc: me. AS MY BRANCH HAS PENDING INVESTIGATIVE MATTERS THERE, THIS BRIEF MAY PLAY INTO OUR INVESTIGATIVE STRATEGY [emphasis mine], and I would like the ability to have visibility and provide thoughts/counsel to you in advance of the briefing. This is one of the reasons why I raised the issue of lanes/responsibilities that I did when you asked her to handle the WH [White House] detailee interaction.”
Translation: I want to use the White House intelligence briefing of the new President to continue investigating him, and I’m mad because Jen left me out of the loop.
Other emails from this period detailed in the press release relate to Strzok’s assessment of media reports on the Steele “dossier.” We’ve looked at one such memo by Strzok already, the one in which he admits the NEW YORK TIMES report on Trump colluding with Russian agents was false. Much more detail is here in the press release; it’s kind of “into the weeds,” but if you have time to go through it, some of this stuff is quite entertaining.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton (who deserves huge thanks for working for so long to obtain all this evidence), had this to say, in part: “These documents suggest that President Trump was targeted by the Comey FBI as soon as he stepped foot in the Oval Office... And, in a continuing outrage, it should be noticed that Wray’s FBI and Barr’s DOJ continue to slow-walk the release of thousands of Page-Strzok emails --- which means the remaining 8,000 pages of records won’t be reviewed and released until 2021-2022!”
This is because the FBI has been processing emails at the rate of only 500 pages per month (!) and has yet to process text messages. Again, this is completely unacceptable, Director Wray. Who knows what is still buried in there? (Answer: maybe Director Wray does.) But right now, we go with what we’ve got, and what we’ve got is tons of incriminating material.
John Solomon at JUST THE NEWS has also written a piece --- highly recommended --- on Strzok’s email about the White House briefing. It goes on to quote some longtime intelligence analysts who can hardly believe this happened. They told Solomon that “...any effort to use official briefings of the President and his White House to spy, investigate or gather information violated the necessary trust for keeping a President apprised of intelligence in a dangerous world.”