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DOJ watchdog says office wasn't consulted on public release of texts

FBI officials' texts on Trump
FBI officials' texts on Trump 02:44

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz' office said it had no objections to the DOJ releasing text messages from a former member of special counsel Robert Mueller's team to Congress, but that the DOJ did not specifically consult the 
inspector general before releasing those records to the media. 

The text messages were released after Peter Strzok was removed from Mueller's team -- investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election -- for sending anti-Trump messages to Lisa Page, another former Mueller team member who has since left the team. 

Strzok was not only a member of Mueller's team, but of the FBI investigation into former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while at the State Department. Horowitz' office is conducting a review into how the FBI handled the Clinton email investigation, including the public announcements made by former FBI Director James Comey about the case. 

The DOJ's Office of the Inspector General released a statement Friday.

"Prior to the Justice Department's decision to release certain text messages this week, the OIG told the department that we did not object to the department releasing to Congress records that it had previously produced to us in the course of our ongoing review, which included the text messages," the OIG said in the statement. "In conveying this position to the department, we noted that, as with any such release, the department was responsible for making its own determination about whether any restrictions, such as those affecting grand jury information, limited what records it may provide to Congress. At no time prior to the release of the text messages did the department consult with the OIG about providing records to the media."

Democrats had pressed the DOJ for an explanation as to why the DOJ on Tuesday night decided to release the roughly 375 texts.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the DOJ made the messages public after getting requests for them from Congress. Rosenstein told the House Judiciary Committee his goal is to be as forthcoming with the media and public as possible, when lawful and appropriate. 

DOJ spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores took to Twitter Friday to defend the decision to release the text messages, too.

Flores insisted her explanation was consistent with the letter later in the day from the OIG. 

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