Hey, guess what? Missing documents!
The Justice Department has turned over to Congress additional text messages involving an FBI agent who was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative team following the discovery of derogatory comments about President Donald Trump.Technical reasons. Technically, the 18-minute gap in the Watergate tapes was a technical problem, too. There's more:
But the department also said in a letter to lawmakers that its record of messages sent to and from the agent, Peter Strzok, was incomplete because the FBI, for technical reasons, had been unable to preserve and retrieve about five months' worth of communications.
In addition to the communications already made public, the Justice Department on Friday provided [Sen. Ron] Johnson's committee with 384 pages of text messages, according to a letter from the Wisconsin lawmaker that was obtained by The Associated Press.Of course, Strzok went to work for Robert Mueller. It's mind-boggling, really. But there's more:
But, according to the letter, the FBI told the department that its system for retaining text messages sent and received on bureau phones had failed to preserve communications between Strzok and Page over a five-month period between Dec. 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017. May 17 was the date that Mueller was appointed as special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation.
The explanation for the gap was "misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI's collection capabilities."
In Johnson's letter to Wray, he asks whether the FBI has any records of communications between Strzok and Page during that five-month window and whether the FBI had searched their non-FBI phones for additional messages. He also asks for the "scope and scale" of any other records from the Clinton investigation that have been lost.This is a crucial question. If all the records are gone, that's bad enough, but if only the Strzok stuff has gone missing, we're talking about a horrific scandal. What's available is bad enough:
One of the messages references a change in language to Comey's statement closing out the email case involving Clinton, Trump's Democratic opponent in the 2016 presidential election. While an earlier draft of the statement said Clinton and President Barack Obama had an email exchange while Clinton was "on the territory" of a hostile adversary, the reference to Obama was at first changed to "senior government official" and then omitted entirely in the final version.
In another exchange, the two express displeasure about the timing of Lynch's announcement that she would defer to the FBI's judgment on the Clinton investigation. That announcement came days after it was revealed that the attorney general and former President Bill Clinton had an impromptu meeting aboard her plane in Phoenix, though both sides said the email investigation was never discussed.
Strzok said in a July 1 text message that the timing of Lynch's announcement "looks like hell." And Page appears to mockingly refer to Lynch's decision to accept the FBI's conclusion in the case as a "real profile in courag(e) since she knows no charges will be brought."These people are the Justice Department. It's a bad joke and the more we learn, the worse it gets.