GOP senator releases handful of new Peter Strzok text messages
Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has released a smattering of texts from the communications between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, former members of special counsel Robert Mueller's team.
Strzok was removed from Mueller's team 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 has said 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 reports.
In what Johnson claims is a discussion about the special counsel's Russia investigation into any ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia, Page, in a text on May 19, 2017, mentions the "different realistic outcomes of this case," according to the records released by Johnson.
"You and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely, I'd be there, no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there's no big there," Strzok responded, according to Johnson.
"Pete. Let's talk about this tomorrow," Page responds.
Johnson, appearing on a radio show in his state of Wisconsin, claimed the records he had obtained made the case that Strzok simply joined the case "because he just couldn't abide Donald Trump being president," not because he thought there was something to the case.
"It's saying that his gut sense that there's no big there there, when it comes to the Mueller special counsel investigation," Johnson said on the radio show. "He doesn't really want to join that because his gut sense is there's no big there there. I think that's kind of shocking."
The Strzok texts — and more recently, the missing texts — have become a point of concern for Republicans, some of whom have questioned the FBI over the situation and used the texts to discredit the Russia investigation. The DOJ said 50,000 texts were exchanged between the two in total. It's unclear if or when Capitol Hill will publicly release the texts delivered last week.
First thing Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to question the integrity of the FBI's leadership after the revelation of the missing texts. Mr. Trump mistakenly said 50,000 texts were missing, when 50,000 is the total number of texts believed to be exchanged.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said the president has "enormous respect" for the FBI.
"The president has enormous respect for the thousands of rank-and-file F.B.I. agents who make up the world's most professional and talented law enforcement agency," Shah said. "He believes politically motivated senior leaders, including former Director (James) Comey and others he empowered, have tainted the agency's reputation for unbiased pursuit of justice. The president appointed Chris Wray because he is a man of true character and integrity, and the right choice to clean up the misconduct at the highest levels of the F.B.I. and give the rank and file confidence in their leadership."
CBS News' Paula Reid contributed to this report.
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