“To me it is deeply disappointing that two FBI senior officials are engaging in this sort of discussion,” said Ron Hosko, former assistant director of the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI Headquarters, commenting on FBI officials discussing evasion of federal record-keeping requirements.
Hosko offered his comments during a Friday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with Breitbart Senior Editor-at-Large Rebecca Mansour.
Mansour asked Hosko about correspondences between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok discussing evasion of governmental capture of their work-related electronic correspondences, drawing on an article from the Hill by Sharyl Attkisson entitled “New FBI messages reveal agents sought way to evade federal record requirements.”
Strzok was a key investigator in the FBI’s probe of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified emails, having conducted several interviews with Clinton and her top aides, as well as writing the first draft of FBI director James Comey’s letter re-opening the Clinton email investigation in October 2016.
Federal agencies are “routinely violating Freedom of Information Act law,” wrote Attkisson. Various federal officials, she added, have evaded governmental capture of their work-related electronic correspondences by conducting government business via private emails, telephones, and other platforms:
In the past two decades as communications via email, smart phones and social media have grown routine, there’s evidence that federal officials have consciously devised ways to thwart public records laws and keep their communications — our records — secret. Federal officials have used private email accounts, private servers and aliases (not their own name) for public business. They have deleted or lost messages that are supposed to be saved.
Enacted in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulates federal government record-keeping and the public disclosure requirements of such records. The federal government broadly describes it as “a law that gives you the right to access information from the federal government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.”
“Today we’ve learned some more about the text messages between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok,” said Mansour. “Among the messages, they detailed how they wanted to avoid a records request or avoid having their text messages involved in a records request.”
“If this was the attitude of the people who were investigating Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, no wonder why they weren’t all that hot in getting to the bottom of the truth,” said Mansour of Page and Strzok. “That’s pretty damning.”
Hosko concurred with Mansour’s analysis of Page and Strzok’s discussion of evasion of governmental record-keeping requirements.
“This is a place where you and I are in violent agreement,” said Hosko. “To me it is deeply disappointing that two FBI senior officials – certainly a deputy assistant director is – are engaging in this sort of discussion. When I was there, and certainly since I’ve left, the FBI is routinely learning about their requirement to maintain government records. Not necessarily a government record if you and I are talking about stepping out for a drink because it’s your birthday next Wednesday, it’s different if we’re talking about a case because those are case and work-related records, and the FBI does maintain them. The workforce is annually getting lessons about the retention of these records, and I believe the FBI takes that very seriously. We know, because we’re learning of it that the FBI retains emails, they retain texts, they retain other records internally, and they use those for espionage [and] misconduct investigations on their own personnel.”
Across the 2016 presidential election season, the FBI appeared to aggressively pursue investigations related to baseless allegations of Donald Trump’s political “collusion” with the Russian state while dragging its heels in investigating Hillary Clinton’s negligent handling of classified information, said Mansour.
“We learned recently that Peter Strzok was involved in investigating Hillary Clinton, and he knew as early as September 2016 about the classified emails that were on the laptop computer of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, the husband of Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Clinton’s senior campaign aides,” said Mansour.
“He knew that they were on Anthony Weiner’s laptop and that this was a big deal, but he waited a whole month, until October, quite late in the campaign, to actually do anything about it,” continued Mansour. “This struck a lot of people as sort of a CYA maneuver, like, ‘Hillary’s going to win, anyways, but we’ve got to show due diligence and do this.’ There seems to be a sort of feet-dragging when it came to investigating the myriad examples of scandals in Hillary Clinton’s background and the myriad leads that they could have chosen to investigation. Yet they were right on the heels of this low-level guy, Carter Page, who the Russians even called a fool, who was goofy and had no power. They were hot on the trail of that, and as reported, there has been nothing to show Russian collaboration or collusion in the campaign. There’s no smoking gun, so far. Right now they’re shifting to obstruction of justice. So why was it that the FBI was so hot on the heels of Donald Trump, but so lax about Hillary Clinton? That’s what’s concerning.”
Hosko speculated that the FBI’s inadvertent discovery of classified information on Weiner’s laptop via Abedin and Clinton might cause delays in the bureau’s investigatory expansion, given its initial pursuit of child pornography on the New York Democrat’s laptop.
“I am among those who is incredibly disappointed in the outcome, outraged by the fact that someone with the clearances that she had and the experience she had in government could in effect, get away with it,” said Hosko. “I have my own set of questions about how the Hillary investigation was conducted, what techniques, we’ve learned, perhaps were not used; grand juries. So here is another question, but I think in this particular case, I’m told first that it was the New York office that had seized Weiner’s laptop, then there came the concerns about whether some of this information was related to the Hillary case. When they’re going to search a device like that, the focus of that investigation was child exploitation, child pornography, and so they have to be smart about how they segregate out that they are lawfully searching for – child pornography – versus other potential information which may not be in the scope of that warrant, and then how [they] proceed.”
The FBI’s month-long delay between identifying classified information originating from Clinton on Weiner’s laptop and an ostensibly resumed investigation of the former first lady’s negligent handling of classified information was not necessarily “nefarious,” said Hosko.
“I’m not convinced that this is nefarious sitting on information by Peter Strzok or Andrew McCabe,” said Hosko. “I’ll tell you, I’m agnostic on it, and I am waiting with bated breath for the inspector general’s report to come out.”
Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.