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DOJ watchdog reveals it has recovered missing FBI text messages

Last Updated Jan 25, 2018 8:15 PM EST

The inspector general at the Department of Justice has revealed that it has recovered at least a portion of missing text messages from FBI devices using "forensic tools," according to a letter that CBS News obtained that was sent from the inspector general's office to Congress Thursday.

"The OIG has been investigating this matter and, this week, succeeded in using forensic tools to recover text messages from FBI devices, including text messages between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page that were sent or received between December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2016," DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote Thursday to Senators Ron Johnson and Charles Grassley, the chairmen of the Senate Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees, respectively. Horowitz also wrote, "Our effort to recovery any additional text messages is ongoing."

This comes after thousands of FBI-issued Samsung 5 phones were impacted by technical issues, which resulted in text messages not being stored over a period of a year from June 2016 to May 2017.

FBI attorney Lisa Page, a former member on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, had a phone that failed to store data from December 2016 to May 2017. The data lapse, however, was unique to each phone, and CBS News' Paula Reid confirmed that phones stopped collecting data as far back as June 2016.

Earlier this week, Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released texts from the communications between Page and Peter Strzok, another former member of Mueller's team.

Strzok was removed from Mueller's team in December after he and Page, who had already left Mueller's team, were suspected of exchanging anti-Trump messages. On Friday, the Department of Justice delivered 384 pages of text messages -- roughly 9,000 texts -- of their texts to Congress. But the FBI said that it is missing texts for about a five-month period from Dec. 14, 2016 to May 17, 2017, the day Mueller was appointed as special counsel. The DOJ claims many FBI-provided Samsung 5 phones did not capture texts during that time, CBS News' Paula Reid reported.

CBS News' Paula Reid and Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.