New Peter Strzok Texts Undermine Official Narrative on Start of ‘Russia Collusion’ Investigation

FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok is seated to testify before the the House Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform during a hearing on "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election," on Capitol Hill, Thursday, July 12, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP Photo

Newly-released texts from former FBI agent Peter Strzok suggest that the Obama administration’s investigation of then-candidate Donald Trump for supposed “Russia collusion” began earlier than the official government narrative has acknowledged.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released new texts on Thursday from Strzok. One text, dated July 28, 2016, refers to “[o]ur open C[counter-]I[ntelligence] investigations relating to Trump’s Russian connections.”

As the report notes, that was the date the FBI was tipped off by Australian diplomat Alexander Downer about a conversation in a bar with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who had suggested that Russia might have Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. (Clinton and her aides had deleted tens of thousands of emails from her time as Secretary of State, which she had housed on an illicit private server at her home. Then-FBI Director James Comey recommended against her prosecution.)

A Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General report in December 2019 claimed that the FBI opened its investigation into the Trump campaign, known as Operation Crossfire Hurricane, on July 31, 2016, three days after receiving the Downey tip.

But the Strzok text, written to FBI lawyer Lisa Page — with whom he had an affair — suggests that the FBI already had open “investigations,” plural, on supposed connections between Trump and Russia, none of which ever turned up any evidence.

Critics of the FBI have long suspected that the investigations began earlier. The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS in April 2016 to investigate Trump’s supposed Russia ties.

The so-called “Russia dossier,” which later served as a basis for the FBI’s surveillance warrants from the secretive FISA court, was prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele, using a sub-source who was himself a suspected Russian spy. The lawyer who arranged the research was Marc Elias, who represented Democrats in election lawsuits nationwide in 2020, pushing for the expansion of vote-by-mail, which played a significant role in President-elect Joe Biden’s eventual victory.

The government also declassified intelligence in September that showed Russian intelligence believed Clinton approved a plan on July 26, 2016, to claim Trump was compromised by supposed ties to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The new Strzok texts reveal that journalist Carl Bernstein, who helped expose the Watergate scandal in the 1970s and is a regular guest on CNN, told the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs that he received the “dossier” from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Last year, DOJ Michael Horowitz told Congress that he did not uncover evidence that Operation Crossfire Hurricane was opened because of political motives. However, Attorney General William Barr disagreed at the time.

U.S. Attorney John Durham, whom Barr quietly elevated to Special Counsel in October, had more access to evidence through his ongoing grand jury investigations into Operation Crossfire Hurricane than Horowitz did through the Inspector General’s investigation.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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