FBI agent Peter Strzok’s text to FBI lawyer Lisa Page hours after FBI Director James Comey was fired that said they needed to “open the case we’ve been waiting on” now that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was in charge was related to the Trump-Russia investigation, according to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
“That text message was not unrelated to Russia,” Gaetz said in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News on Tuesday.
The evening right after Comey was fired on May 9, 2017, Strzok had texted Page, his then-paramour, at 8:14 p.m. with: “We need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy is acting.”
Page responded the next morning at 4:57 a.m., with: “We need to lock in [redacted]. In a formal, chargeable way. Soon.”
Strzok confirmed during his testimony on Thursday that “Andy” meant McCabe, but refused to confirm what “case” he was referring to, or who Page was talking about.
But Page, who testified behind closed doors on Friday and Monday was much more forthcoming about those texts, Gaetz said.
“It’s my understanding from discussions with my colleagues that Rosenstein had indicated that it had nothing to do with Russia or the Trump campaign, that it was this unrelated matter,” he said.
“Strzok refused to answer what it was related to. And Lisa Page gave a testimony that was in direct conflict with what I understood to be Rosenstein’s explanation.”
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) told Strzok during his open-testimony last week that if he and Page talked about opening an investigation based on who was then-FBI director, it would violate due process.
“Decisions about when and whether to open investigations and when and whether to charge people with crimes aren’t supposed to depend on who’s sitting in the director’s chair, or on political decisions, or on the political agendas of FBI agents and lawyers,” he said last week at a House Judiciary and Oversight & Government Reform Committees joint hearing.
“So if a Trump-hating FBI agent and a Trump-hating FBI lawyer who have talked about effing Trump, stopping Trump, impeaching Trump are, within hours of President Trump firing their boss, if they start talking about opening an investigation now that ‘Andy is acting,’ and that some person needs to be locked in in a ‘formal, chargeable way, soon’ — I know, as a former U.S. attorney … whoever is the subject of that case that was opened now that Andy is acting — and whoever you and Ms. Page talked about needing to be locked in soon in a formal chargeable way — well, they would have had their civil liberties violated.
“They would have been deprived of due process.”
At the time of those exchanges, Comey had just been fired, McCabe had become acting FBI director, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller had not yet been appointed.
15. Screenshot of prior. pic.twitter.com/4yadIasebn
— TheLastRefuge (@TheLastRefuge2) April 27, 2018
Both Page and Strzok played key roles on both the Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations.
Page served as legal counsel to McCabe, and as his liaison to Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigation teams. She would then work on the special counsel team for two months before her assignment there ended.
Strzok, led the Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations, then served on the special counsel team until Mueller learned of the text messages Strzok and Page had sent.
During those three phases, Strzok and Page exchanged at least 50,000 text messages to one another, many of which expressed animus towards Trump and a preference for Clinton. In one text, Strzok had told Page that they would “stop” Trump’s election.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found in an investigation of the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation that Strzok’s text messages showed a “biased state of mind” and a “willingness to act.”
Horowitz is now investigating whether Strzok’s bias against Trump affected the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign.
During last week’s open hearing, Strzok revealed that Mueller never asked him any questions about those text messages, and simply dismissed him due to the “appearance” of bias. Lawmakers during the hearing rejected that explanation, arguing that other lawyers on the special counsel team also had the appearance of bias since they had donated to or worked for Democrats, but they were not kicked off the team.
Gaetz also said another exchange between Strzok and Page discussing their career decisions showed that they did not believe there was any evidence of collusion, about 10 months after the FBI had launched its investigation into the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, but before Mueller was appointed.
“My reaction to Lisa Page’s testimony is that at that time, there really was zero basis for collusion, and Strzok and Page both knew it,” he said. “It’s a significant factual revelation, that deep into the FBI’s investigation of the Trump-Russia allegation, there was no evidence, and that Mueller was in fact appointed in the absence of evidence.
Gaetz said that Page, like Strzok, also denied that her personal views against Trump played a role in her decision-making.
“Her demeanor was confidence. She was not cagey and coy. I thought she was direct. She obviously maintained the Strzok line of reasoning that, ‘Well I personally held these views, but it never affected our investigative work.'”
“I did not believe her when she said her bias was walled off from work, but I was appreciative that she answered more questions than Strzok did,” he said.