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IG Report: Page, Strzok Bypassed FBI Chain of Command to Covertly Brief McCabe on Hillary Probe

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

NEW YORK — FBI witnesses speaking to the Justice Department’s internal watchdog described an extraordinary system of communication set up between former deputy director Andrew McCabe and FBI official Lisa Page that bypassed the ordinary chain of command to communicate important information about the agency’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server.

The method of communication involved FBI official Peter Strzok, who was romantically involved with Page, sending information on the Clinton probe to McCabe through Page, the report found.

Page and Strzok have been the subject of public controversy following revelations last December that they exchanged a series of anti-Trump text messages. Still more messages were revealed in the 500-plus page report released yesterday by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

One section of the report focuses on Page’s special liaison role between the team investigating Clinton, known as the “Midyear team”, and McCabe. The method of communication resulted in information not being filtered through other FBI officials, and according to the report Page acknowledged that some within the FBI were upset by this setup.

The IG report found that Page, McCabe and Strzok’s circle of contact cut out two top FBI officials from the chain of communication, namely E.W. Priestap, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and Michael Steinbach, who served as executive assistant director of the agency’s national security branch.

The report reveals:

Lisa Page, who was Special Counsel to McCabe, became involved in the Midyear investigation after McCabe became the Deputy Director in February 2016.  Page told the OIG that part of her function was to serve as a liaison between the Midyear team and McCabe.  Page acknowledged that her role upset senior FBI officials, but told the OIG that McCabe relied on her to ensure that he had the information he needed to make decisions, without it being filtered through multiple layers of management.

Several witnesses told the OIG that Page circumvented the official chain of command, and that Strzok communicated important Midyear case information to her, and thus to McCabe, without Priestap’s or Steinbach’s knowledge.  McCabe said that he was aware of complaints about Page, and that he valued her ability to “spot issues” and bring them to his attention when others did not do so.

The IG report, meanwhile, contained previously unknown text messages between Page and Strzok in which the pair discussed stopping Trump from becoming president.

“[Trump’s not ever going to become president, right? Right!?” Page texted Strzok in one August 2016 message.

“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded.

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 research by Joshua Klein.

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