'We’ll stop it': DOJ report says texting FBI lovers talked about keeping Trump from winningby Richard Bailey 14/06/2018 14:20:00 0 comments 1 Views
- DOJ inspector general report, released today, suggests texting FBI lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page conspired to keep Donald Trump from becoming president
- 'No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it,' Strzok emailed Page in August 2016
- IG Michael Horowitz concluded, though, that there was no 'political bias' in the probe of Hillary Clinton's email scandal
- Still, the conduct of Strzok, Page and others 'cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation' into Clinton's private email server that housed classified info
- Report also blasts fired FBI chief James Comey and says he 'deviated' from established FBI practices in the Clinton email probe
- Report comes on President Trump's 72nd birthday
- Horowitz criticized Comey and former AG Loretta Lynch for not communicating before announcements about major decisions in the probe
- June 18 and 19 will see Horowitz testifying in Senate and House hearings on Capitol Hill
- President said last week that he hoped the report wasn't being 'made weaker'
- Three House Republicans are demanding Horowitz's early drafts to see if DOJ officials watered it down before Thursday's release
By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor For Dailymail.com
Published: 23:58 EDT, 13 June 2018 | Updated: 14:20 EDT, 14 June 2018
A bombshell report released Thursday by the Justice Department's inspector general includes new evidence that an FBI agent and an agency lawyer who were having an affair in 2016 were also plotting to keep President Donald Trump from winning the election.
In an email on August 8, 2016, Special Agent Peter Strzok reassured Page that she needn't worry about Trump winning the White House.
Trump is 'not ever going to become president, right? Right?!' Page texted Strzok.
'No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it,' he responded.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote that '[s]everal FBI employees who played critical roles in the investigation sent political messages,' but concluded that 'the conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation.'
He declared that the IG's office 'did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed.'
FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page exchanged text messages about keeping Donald Trump from becoming president, according to information in a Justice Department inspector general report released Thursday
Strzok texted Page not to worry about what might happen if Donald Trump became president: 'No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it'
Strzok and Page have been front-page fodder since news of their relationship stoked Republican claims of bias at the FBI last year in the months after Trump fired FBI director James Comey.
At the time, Strzok was a lead agent working on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into unproven ties between the Trump campaign and agents of Russia. Strzok was transferred away from that investigation, and Page quit the FBI.
The 500-page report also found that then-FBI Director James Comey 'deviated' from the standard practices of his agency when dealing with the probe into Hillary Clinton's classified emails.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday that 'this has been a prolonged and painful process for the Department and the FBI. But this is not the end of the process'
But IG Michael Horowitz emphasized that Comey was more knuckleheaded than malicious.
'While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey's part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice,' the report reads.
Horowitz wrote that the Clinton saga was 'not the first time the [DOJ] and the FBI have conducted a politically-charged investigation and it will not be the last.'
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has largely defended the DOJ's internal investigations while insisting that the agency can be trusted to police itself.
He said Thursday that 'this has been a prolonged and painful process for the Department and the FBI. But this is not the end of the process.'
Several top Justice Department and FBI officials have been under scrutiny in the IG's probe, including Strzok, Page, Comey, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Three Republican members of Congress wrote to Horowitz on Thursday and demanded copies of his initial drafts, suggesting the final report was watered down for partisan reasons.
The long anticipated inspector general's bombshell report on the Clinton email investigation is released – and points fingers of blame at 'insubordinate' James Comey but doesn't call hm politically biased
The president asked last week why Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department's inspector general, hadn't completed his report by the end of May as scheduled
Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and Florida Reps. Ron DeSantis and Matt Gaetz noted that DOJ and FBI officials who received the draft had 'an opportunity to respond and rebut the report's findings in the final stage before the details become public.'
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote in his report released Thursday that the agency should have done a better job protecting itself from allegations of political bias.
Among his recommendations:
- Exercise more care before doing anything that could 'impact an election'
- Avhes thoid making public statements about the actions of people who haven't been indicted
- FBI should consult with the attorney general, deputy attorney general or a federal prosecutor before announcing any decision about whether to charge someone
- Monitor and retain employees' text messages more consistently
- Inform FBI employees with messages on their government-issued cell phones that text messages are not private
- Conduct a review of campaign donations made by Justice Department employees and decisions by their spouses to run for public office
'We are concerned that during this time, people may have changed the report in a way that obfuscates your findings,' they wrote. 'Per Congress's oversight authority, we request you supply your original drafts along with the final published form.'
Trump last week put public pressure on Horowitz to finish the report, and said he hoped it wasn't being made 'weaker.'
'What is taking so long with the Inspector General's Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey,' Trump tweeted. 'Numerous delays. Hope Report is not being changed and made weaker! There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know. Transparency!'
Bloomberg News was the first to obtain a copy of the report ahead of its scheduled 3:00 p.m. release.
The long anticipated bombshell report brands Comey as 'insubordinate.' Senior members of Congress received a briefing on the IG's findings at lunchtime.
South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chairs the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said afterward that he was 'alarmed, angered, and deeply disappointed' by what he heard about the probe into what he called 'potential Espionage Act violations' by Clinton.
'The investigatory conclusions were reached before the end of the witness interviews,' Gowdy said in a statement, and '[t]he treatment afforded to former Secretary Clinton and other potential subjects and targets was starkly different from the FBI’s investigation into Trump campaign officials.'
He called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray to 'take decisive action to restore Americans’ confidence in our justice system.'
Horowitz had direct criticism for Comey and Lynch, finding a 'troubling lack of any direct, substantive communication' between them in advance of the July 5, 2016 press conference where then-FBI director Comey appeared to let Clinton off the hook for housing classified emails on an unsecured private server.
Three Republican members of Congress asked IG Horowitz for drafts of his report on Thursday, saying they suspect FBI and DOJ officials watered it down before its release
He also upbraided the two of them for failing to connect before Comey's October 28 letter to Congress, in which he said additional emails had been found that caused him to restart the probe.
'We found it extraordinary that, in advance of two such consequential decisions, the FBI director decided that the best course of conduct was to not speak directly and substantively with the attorney general about how best to navigate those decisions,' Horowitz wrote.
The West Wing held its collective breath all week, hoping for a spanking heard 'round the world.
'When will people start saying, 'thank you, Mr. President, for firing James Comey?'' the president tweeted a week ago.
'Comey is eventually going to get what's coming to him, so it may as well be soon,' one White House official added then.
The official said the fired FBI director 'and his cheap halo have been wearing the holier-than-thou act pretty thin, and nobody around here is going to shed a tear if he's brought down a peg. Or a few hundred.'
The Justice Department is making Horowitz available to testify in a public Senate hearing on June 18. House Judiciary Committee members will get their chance to quiz Horowitz a day later.
The result could be a flurry of written demands for public testimony – from Comey and former attorney general Loretta Lynch – and then even more explosive testimony in public from both former top-shelf Obama administration luminaries.
Horowitz's report has been widely expected to criticize Comey and other senior leaders for their handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's mishandling of classified information while she was secretary of state.
The Trump White House is still reeling from the months-long public relations blitz associated with Comey's self-laudatory book, 'A Higher Loyalty,' which painted Trump as an integrity-compromised villain and cast Comey as the unfairlly deposed carrier of America's moral torch.
Horowitz wrote to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, saying that his long-awaited report is released today and he'll follow up with public testimony four days later
Among the report's findings already leaked to the press a week ago: Comey was 'insubordinate,' Lynch jeopardized the impartiality of the DOJ by meeting secretly with former president Bill Clinton while his wife's fate hung in the balance, and that the FBI didn't move quickly enough to review a trove of emails found late in the 2016 campaign.
Those emails were found on a laptop belonging to disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the now-jailed ex-husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Of particular interest is Comey's bombshell announcement two weeks before the 2016 election that the agency was reopening the Clinton email probe after stumbling upon the new material. It wasn't until two days before the election that the FBI announced, for a second time, it would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton.
The Office of Inspector General report is also expected to criticize Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI officials who exchanged vicious text messages about Trump during the course of the Clinton investigation and the presidential campaign. Strzok was later tasked to work on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of unproven links between the Trump campaign and agents of the Kremlin.
The Trump White House is still reeling from the public relations blitz associated with Comey's book, andsome in the West Wing are itching for revenge
In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, Horowitz wrote that '[p]rior to the June 18 hearing, the OIG intends to release our report publicly and to provide the report's classified appendix to our oversight committees.'
'We will release the report as soon as we complete the OIG's ordinary processes for the review and classification of such reports ... Most of this process is now complete, and we anticipate releasing the report on June 14, 2018.'
The report is expected to be especially brutal to Comey for telling Congress, barely a week before the 2016 election, that he was reopening a dormant probe into classified material nestled among other files on Clinton's private email server.
ABC News reported that Horowitz will brand Comey 'insubordinate,' a word suggesting Lynch may have ordered him not to tell Congress that he had rebooted the investigation, a move that made voters aware of his decision and likely had political consequences.
Lynch's transgression appears to be her declaration that she would accept the advice of the FBI – which ultimately recommended no prosecution – shortly after she convened a secret meeting with former president Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac.
Former attorney general Loretta Lynch is under the inspector general's microscope, reportedly for announcing just after a secret meeting with Bill Clinton that she wouldn't intervene in deciding whether to charge Hillary with a crime, and for not communbicating with Comey in advance of major announcements about the investigation
Clinton maintained a private, home-brew email server for her communications while she was secretary of state, and classified material was found on it; Comey cleared her of criminal wrongdoing in July 2016 but rebooted the probe in October, a move that she has said doomed her presidential hopes
That episode raised deep suspicions about whether she was putting her thumb on the scales of justice to help the Clintons, although both insisted they didn't speak about the then-Democratic presidential candidate's email scandal.
The late-October 2016 restart of the Hillary Clinton probe came after a tranche of her emails were discovered on a laptop belonging to disgraced former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner.
Weiner was married to Huma Abedin, Clinton's deputy campaign manager, from whose account the emails were forwarded.
Sending the letter to Congress broke with longstanding DOJ policy not to take actions that could interfere with political processes, according to ABC.
The network's anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Comey in April: 'If Attorney General Lynch had ordered you not to send the letter, would you have sent it?'
'No. I believe in the chain of command,' he replied.
Trump asked last week why it was 'taking so long' for the Justice Department's IG to complete his report, details of which have begun to dribble out to the press
PRESSURE: The president said he hoped the report wasn't being made 'weaker' – a possible reference to the 'comment period' where the Justice Department and FBI get the chance to make comments or dispute conclusions
Amid growing interest in the report, the Senate Judiciary Committee last week gave notice that it would hold a hearing titled: 'Examining the Inspector General's First Report on Justice Department Decisions Regarding the 2016 Presidential Election.'
It pushed the hearing back a week, from its original date of June 5 to June 12.
'We are not going to hold the hearing until the report comes out,' said a Judiciary panel spokesman on Monday.
Horowitz told a House Oversight hearing late last year his office was 'aiming to release the report in late winter/early spring — hopefully in that March/April time period.'
One person the IG interviewed in the course of his investigation was Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who on Sunday said he provided satisfactory assurances that he did not have inside information on the FBI reopening the Clinton email investigation.
Asked if he expected to be identified in the report as getting leaked information from the FBI, Giuliani told NBC's 'Meet the Press': 'Oh no, no, absolutely not. No. Impossible. I didn't get any leaked information from the F.B.I.'
Giuliani said he had 'no idea that Weiner was involved in this at all. Had no idea they were going to reopen it.'
Giuliani in advance of the FBI's surprise move had touted 'some pretty big surprise,' telling Fox News: 'You'll see.'
He told NBC he was referring to a major TV ad buy, 'where we were going to buy a tremendous amount of time unlike anything we had ever done before.' He says he was able to 'show them a memo, a contemporaneous memo I have' about it.
Asked by host Chuck Todd if he had a heads-up, Giuliani replied: 'Right, no heads up. I had a speculation.'