Jan. 21 (UPI) — The FBI did not retain text messages between two agency officials involved in the investigations of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for a five-month period, according to a Senate committee letter.
The missing texts were revealed after the FBI delivered more than 400 pages of texts between agent Peter Strzok, who led the investigation of the Clinton email server, and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. The committee requested the bulk of texts after reports in December that the two made disparaging comments about Trump throughout the 2016 presidential election season.
The Department of Justice was able to collect 384 pages worth of texts between Strzok and Page, but said the FBI was not able to collect texts Strzok and Page sent to each other between Dec. 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017.
“The FBI has informed [the Department of Justice] that many FBI-provided Samsung 5 mobile devices did not capture or store text messages due to reconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities,” the Department of Justice statement said, according to Johnson’s letter. “The Result was that data that should have been automatically collected and retained for long-term storage and retrieval was not collected.”
Johnson said the FBI’s inability to collect the texts was “concerning.”
Johnson published several text conversations between Strzok and Page, including one that indicates Clinton, while serving as Secretary of State, emailed President Barack Obama through her private email server while traveling overseas. That information was originally included in former FBI Director James Comey’s statement in July, 2016, announcing that no criminal charges would be recommended.
But a text from Strzok to Page said that “President” was change to “another senior government official.”
In his letter, Johnson said other conversations between Strzok and Page indicate that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch was aware that the FBI would not recommend criminal charges before she announced in July that she would accept the agency’s recommendation.
Lynch made that announcement after TV news cameras filmed her having a private conversation with former President Bill Clinton at a Phoenix airport.
“Yeah, it’s a real profile in courag(e), since she knows no charges will be brought,” Page texted to Strzok.
In the letter, Johnson asked the FBI to further explain why the text messages are missing and produce other relevant records pertaining to the Clinton investigation.
“Under federal law, the head of each federal agency is required to preserve all records documenting the decision-making process and essential transactions of the agency,” Johnson wrote.