Unnamed federal law enforcement officials told Fox News that “thousands” of FBI cellphones were affected by the technical glitch that led to the failure to capture five months of texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
The officials told Fox News that the glitch affected nearly ten percent of the FBI’s 35,000 employees. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement earlier this week that a review is already underway into what happened, and to see if the messages can be recovered.
Senior Justice Department officials told Fox News that they are “taking steps” to possibly recover the text messages from the appropriate cellphone carriers, and are making every effort to track down the physical cellphones for examination.
The DOJ informed Congress of the missing text messages on Friday, when it released the latest batch of text messages between Strzok and Page to lawmakers.
Congress is concerned about the gap, which lasts between December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017, the day the special counsel was convened. Strzok and Page played key roles in the Clinton email investigation and the FBI’s initial Russia probe during that time.
The Justice Department inspector general discovered they had sent tens of thousands of text messages to each other, many of which expose an anti-Trump and pro-Clinton bias. They also texted about an “insurance policy” in the case of Trump’s election.
The inspector general found the texts while investigating whether the FBI allowed political bias to affect its investigations of Clinton and the Trump Russia investigation.
Both Page and Strzok, who were engaged in an extramarital affair, served on the special counsel. Page only had a 45-day assignment and left the team before the texts were discovered, while Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed Strzok from the team after the texts were found.
Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Tuesday noting that he had previously said he had all the text messages between Strzok and Page between Nov. 30, 2016, and July 28, 2017.
They want Horowitz to “reconcile” his earlier statement with the announcement of missing text messages.
The five-month gap covers the period of President Trump’s investigation, former FBI Director James Comey’s briefing of the dossier to Trump, an FBI interview of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the firings of Flynn and Comey, and the standing up of the special counsel.