Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is demanding answers from the Justice Department concerning a cryptic text from one of the FBI's top Russian counterintelligence experts discussing an "insurance policy" in the event that then-presidential candidate Donald Trump won election to the White House.
As WND reported, after months of bashing then-candidate Trump in texts and stating that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton "just has to win," Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page exchanged a mysterious text concerning a so-called "insurance policy" against a possible Trump win.
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On Aug. 15, 2016, Strzok wrote: "I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in [Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe's] office that there's no way he gets elected – but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40 ..."
It's unclear what the "insurance policy" against Trump's election might have involved. However, as WND recently reported, the FBI's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election began in late July 2016, just weeks before Strzok's mysterious text. And only a month before the "insurance policy" comment, the anti-Trump dossier had been given to the FBI "near the start of July," according to former British spy Christopher Steele.
On Thursday, Sen. Grassley sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein demanding more information about the texts between Strzok and Page, including the one that referenced the "insurance policy." He is also seeking more information concerning communication the two senior FBI employees had in McCabe's office.
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Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told Fox News he'll be "surprised" if McCabe is still working at the FBI next week after the revelations.
"I'm still trying to figure out why three FBI agents are discussing politics in the deputy director's office, because you're not supposed to discuss politics on federal grounds," Rep. Gowdy said. "And FBI agents aren't supposed to engage in politics for Hatch Act reasons. Remember, we were supposed to interview Andy McCabe yesterday on another committee. ... I'll be shocked if he comes next week. I'll be a little bit surprised if he's still an employee of the FBI at this time next week.
"But the notion that three bureau agents would be conspiring or plotting on how to handle the outcome of a presidential election is the opposite of what you want in an objective, dispassionate, neutral FBI. ... Remember, [former FBI Director] Jim Comey was very sanctimonious when he talked about a politicized FBI, very sanctimonious. Well, guess what? In his deputy director's office, they were discussing how to prevent one candidate from becoming president of the United States. It doesn't get any more political than that."
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Grassley said the FBI agents' messages indicate "some officials took actions beyond expressing their political opinions."
Strzok – who was chosen to oversee the FBI's Trump investigation in the end of July 2016 – was kicked off Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team last summer after it was learned he had texted the anti-Trump messages to fellow Mueller investigator Lisa Page, with whom he was romantically involved. Strzok also played a large role in the investigation of Clinton's email. He reportedly emailed Clinton on July 2, 2016, just three days before former FBI Director James Comey exonerated Clinton from wrongdoing following the investigation into her private email server.
Grassley wants the following questions answered:
1) On what date did you become aware of the text messages between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page and on what date were they each removed from the Special Counsel's office?
2) Are there any other records relating to the conversation in Andrew McCabe's office shortly before the ["insurance policy"] text described above on August 15, 2016? If so please produce them to the Committee.
3) Please provide all records relating to Andrew McCabe's communications with Peter Strzok or Lisa Page between August 7, 2016 and August 23, 2016.
4) What steps have you taken to determine whether Mr. Strzok, Mr. Page, and Mr. McCabe should face disciplinary action for their conduct?
5) My understanding is that the Inspector General's current investigation is limited to the handling of the Clinton email matter only. What steps have you taken to determine whether steps taken during the campaign to escalate the Russia investigation might have been a result of the political animus evidenced by these text messages rather than on the merits?
6) Has the Department identified the referenced "that phone" Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page used to discuss Secretary Clinton? What steps has the Department taken to review the records on this other phone that allegedly "can't be traced." If none, please explain why not? If steps have been taken, please detail them and provide all records reviewed.
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The Department of Justice is expected to respond before Dec. 27.
In the letter to Rosenstein, Grassley wrote: "Any improper political influence or motives in the course of any FBI investigation must be brought to light and addressed. Former Director Comey's claims that the FBI doesn't give a rip about politics certainly are not consistent with the evidence of discussions occurring in the deputy director's office" in August of 2016.
Strzok and Page reportedly used a second phone to "talk about Hillary because it can't be traced," according to another message referenced in Question 6.
"[W]e text on that phone when we talk about hillary because it can't be traced, you were just venting bc you feel bad that you're gone so much but it can't be helped right now," Page wrote.
Grassley pointed out that the secretive text about the second phone was sent only days after Strzok had interviewed Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills concerning Clinton's private email server.
Grassley asked Rosenstein if that secret second phone had been located and whether the DOJ has taken any actions to check records on the phone that supposedly "can't be traced."
"If none, please explain why not?" he wrote in his list of questions. "If steps have been taken, please detail them and provide all records reviewed."
As WND reported, talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh offered his thoughts on the "insurance policy" text during his Wednesday show.
"So here's Strzok saying, 'I know you think there's no way Trump can win, but I'm afraid we can't risk it. We can't leave it to chance.' This text exposes the fact that they may have been working to secure Trump's defeat," Limbaugh explained.
What this means is they're in McCabe's office, all three of them, Strzok and Lisa Page and McCabe. They're in McCabe’s office and they're worried to death and they're thinking that Trump's gonna win this thing.
And she, Lisa Page, lays out her thinking in which there's no way Trump wins. She went through every point, apparently. And he's referencing that. "I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office – that there's no way he gets elected – but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40."
What does this mean, I am afraid we can't take that risk? It means we can't just sit around and let whatever happens happen. We can't take the risk. We've got to do something. And, boy, did they. Working with Fusion GPS, manufacturing the Trump dossier ... [which] was used to get a FISA warrant to investigate and surveil the Trump campaign. ...
The Drive-Bys are not gonna have this. The Drive-Bys are not even gonna mention this. The Drive-Bys are not even gonna reference this. But this is causing a firestorm because it does indicate that they were putting together a strategy, that Strzok was beginning to put together a strategy. He said: Look, Lisa, I hope you're right that "there's no way this guy gets elected, but we can't take that risk."
Meaning: "We can't just sit here and do nothing."
Strzok and Page also exchanged some other noteworthy texts, including the following:
- Strzok called Trump a "f---ing idiot" in a message sent Oct. 20, 2016.
- On Aug. 6, 2016, Strzok said, "F Trump." And Page told him, "Maybe you're meant to stay where you are because you're meant to protect the country from that menace." Strzok responded: "I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps."
- On March 2, 2016, Strzok indicated he planned to vote for Clinton. He told Page, "God Hillary should win 100,000,000 - 0."
- In a July 26, 2016, text to Page, Strzok cheered Clinton after she received the Democratic Party nomination: "Congrats on a woman nominated for President in a major party! About damn time!"
Just this week, WND asked Mueller's office: "What would you say to high-profile critics who are now claiming Mueller's team is too partisan to investigate this case in a fair and balanced way?"
"Justice Department policies and federal law prohibit discriminating based on political affiliation when it comes to hiring for nonpolitical positions," Mueller spokesman Joshua Stueve replied.
Stueve also pointed to Rosenstein's comment in a recent Fox News interview: "If there were conflicts that arose, because of Director Mueller or anybody employed by Director Mueller, we have a process within the [Justice Department] to take care of that."
But, as WND has reported, Mueller assembled a legal team for his Russia investigation that was apparently full of Democrats and Democrat-connected lawyers.
- Andrew Weissmann: Donated six times in 2008 to political action committees for Obama, to the tune of $4,700. Weissman recently made headlines for praising former acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she had refused to defend Trump's travel ban. "I am so proud and in awe," he said in emails obtained by Judicial Watch. "Thank you so much." In November, Weissman attended Clinton's election night party at the Javits Center in New York City.
- Jeannie Rhee: Donated $5,400 to Clinton's presidential campaign PAC Hillary for America. Rhee previously represented the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 racketeering case and served as the personal attorney of Obama national security adviser Ben Rhodes. Rhee has also contributed to the DNC, Obama and Democratic Sems. Mark Udall (2013) and Chris Van Hollen (2015).
- James Quarles: Donated to more than a dozen Democratic PACs since the late '80s, including ones for Michael Dukakis, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Quarles also gave money to the campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry. He was previously a partner at WilmerHale, where Mueller worked.
- Greg Andres: Donated to at least $3,700 to Democrats, including $2,700 to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. Andres' wife Ronnie, is a federal district court judge who was nominated to her seat by Obama.
- Zainab Ahmad: Donated $1,000 to Michigan Democrat Syed Taj in 2012.
- Kyle Freeny: Donated $500 to Obama in 2008 and 2012 and $250 to Clinton in 2016.
- Andrew Goldstein: Donated $6,600 to Obama.
- Elizabeth Prelogar: Donated $250 to Obama in 2012 and $250 to Clinton in 2016.
- Brandon Van Grack: Donated $286 to Obama in 2008.
FEC records reveal only a handful of Mueller lawyers have no campaign donations under their names: Michael Dreeben, Aaron Zebley, Lisa Page, Adam Jed, Aaron Zelinsky and Scott Meisler.
However, Zebley, who is a former partner at Muller's law firm, reportedly represented longtime Bill Clinton aide Justin Cooper, who was a leading player in Hillary Clinton's email controversy. Cooper had helped set up Clinton's homebrew email server and destroyed her mobile devices.
And on Monday, it was revealed that Nellie H. Ohr, the wife of senior Justice Department official Bruce G. Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election while the research firm was compiling its anti-Trump dossier. Bruce Ohr was demoted because he tried to hide his meetings with Fusion GPS officials.