- New text messages between two FBI agents who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation show that while they were awed at the potential consequences of Mueller’s case, one of them, Peter Strzok, was wary of joining his team because he didn’t think they would find anything “big.”
- The texts were part of a trove of messages delivered to Congress by the Department of Justice late last week, but 50,000 messages are missing from the cache due to an error in the FBI’s system.
Newly released text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and his colleague Lisa Page reveal that Strzok was reluctant to join special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference because he feared the team wouldn’t find anything noteworthy.
“You and I both know the odds are nothing,” Strzok said in a text to Page on May 19, 2017. “If I thought it was likely, I’d be there, no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there’s no big there there.”
The fresh batch of texts was released on Tuesday by Sen. Ron Johnson, the Republican chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, after the Department of Justice delivered about 384 pages containing around 9,000 texts to Congress on Friday.
Despite his misgivings about the case, Strzok did seem to appreciate the gravity of the investigation, which encompasses President Donald Trump and his associates as well.
“A case which will be in the history books” Strzok wrote, “…In maybe the most important case of our lives.”
Strzok did, however, encourage Page, with whom he was also romantically involved with at the time, to join the probe.
“You would obviously excel on the team, ” he wrote. “In a thousand ways they need someone EXACTLY like you.”
Apparently unnerved by the seriousness of what they were discussing over text, Page suggested that she and Strzok discuss the specifics of the case the next day.
The texts exchanged between Strzok and Page have generated controversy ever since it was revealed the pair had been sending anti-Trump messages to each other during the 2016 election. Mueller had reassigned Strzok from the investigation in July 2017 after discovering the contents of the correspondence.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially ordered an investigation into the two agents’ texts.
The messages released by Johnson on Tuesday shed further light on the nature of their exchanges, and led Johnson himself to express dismay at the agents’ conduct.
“He doesn’t really want to join that because his gut sense is there’s no big ‘there’ there,” Johnson said. “I think that’s kind of shocking.”
Swirling rumours and allegations of conspiracy
Missing from the huge trove of documents were around five months’ worth of correspondence – or roughly 50,000 texts – that the FBI said were not captured in their system due to an error on the Samsung 5 phones the FBI had provided their agents with.
These missing messages, together with the agents’ anti-Trump feelings in general, have helped fuel an assault on the FBI and the integrity of Mueller’s probe from members of Congress and from Trump himself, and now some on the right are also using the missing messages to allege a wide-ranging conspiracy.
Fox News host Sean Hannity made statements to this effect on his show on Monday.
“This reeks of law-breaking, it reeks of conspiracy, and it reeks of obstruction of justice,” Hannity stated.
Trump himself called the missing texts “one of the biggest stories in a long time” in a tweet on Tuesday.
But so far, there is no reason to believe the FBI is intentionally withholding any of these messages.
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