TEL AVIV — Reports of text messages between an FBI lawyer and a top FBI official helping to lead the agency’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server may raise questions about the veracity of statements made by former FBI Director James Comey during sworn testimony regarding the timing of the Clinton email investigation.
The text messages in question were exchanged between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, the FBI’s deputy chief of counterintelligence. The duo were romantically involved. Strzok was a key player in the Clinton email probe, personally conducting interviews with Clinton and several of her top aides as part of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s server.
Last weekend, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray documenting some of the text messages exchanged between Page and Strzok.
One particular exchange focused on the FBI’s need to “finish” its investigation into Clinton’s email server after Sen. Ted Cruz dropped out of the 2016 presidential race, making a Clinton-Trump match up most likely. One message references “MYE,” apparently an acronym for “Midyear Exam,” the FBI’s case name for the Clinton email probe.
The exchange took place on May 4, 2016, which Johnson wrote was “after then-Director Comey began drafting his July 5 statement clearing Secretary Clinton.” The date was one day after Cruz dropped out of the presidential race.
Here is the text of the relevant messages, according to Johnson’s letter:
Ms. Page: And holy shit Cruz just dropped out of the race. It’s going to be Clinton Trump race. Unbelievable.
Mr. Strzok: What??
Ms. Page: You heard it right my friend.
Mr. Strzok: I saw trump [sic] won, figured it would be a bit…
Mr. Strzok: Now the pressure really starts to finish MYE…
Ms. Page: It sure does. We need to talk about follow up call tomorrow. We still never have.
Strzok clearly discusses “pressure” to conclude the Clinton email probe, linking the timing to the ascension of Trump as the Republican candidate most capable of securing the GOP nomination at the time.
The messages contrast with Comey’s May 3, 2017 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on FBI oversight in which the then-FBI director defended the Clinton email investigation.
Comey was asked by Sen. Chuck Grassley whether there was any artificial deadline to finish the email probe, especially before the Democratic National Convention. He was also questioned about the code name for the investigation, “Midyear Exam,” which seems to imply a timeline.
Grassley wrongly referred to the codename for the probe as “Operation Midyear,” but Comey used the correct term “Midyear Exam.”
Here is a transcript of that section of Comey’s testimony:
GRASSLEY: Was the Clinton investigation named Operation Midyear because it needed to be finished before the Democratic National Convention. If so, why the artificial deadline? If not, why was that the name?
COMEY: Certainly not because it had to be finished by a particular date. There’s an art and a science to how we come up with codenames for cases. They — they assure me it’s done randomly.
Sometimes I see ones that make me smile and so I’m not sure. But I can assure you that — that it was called Midyear Exam, was the name of the case. I can assure you the name was not selected for any nefarious purpose or because of any timing on the investigation.
At an infamous news conference on July 5, 2016, Comey seemingly violated FBI tradition by bypassing the Justice Department and stating that “no charges are appropriate” in Clinton’s case after criticizing her use of a private email server as “extremely careless.” It is not traditionally the role of the FBI as an investigative agency to announce whether charges are appropriate.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Written with additional research by Joshua Klein.