Newly revealed FBI memos show that FBI agent Peter Strzok and his counterintelligence team stepped up their effort to find “derogatory” information regarding alleged Trump-Russia collusion so they could expand their investigation prior to the 2016 presidential election.
The investigators were looking for a “pretext” to accelerate the probe and get a surveillance warrant on figures tied to the future president, reported John Solomon in The Hill, citing documents turned over by the Justice Department to the inspector general and multiple Senate and House committees.
Solomon said the documents provided what sources involved in their production, review or investigation describe as “damning” or “troubling” evidence.
Strzok is scheduled to testify at an open congressional hearing next week.
The memos show Strzok, paramour Lisa Page and other investigators monitored news articles in September 2016 that quoted a law enforcement source as saying the FBI was investigating Trump volunteer campaign adviser Carter Page’s travel to Moscow.
When Page wrote a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey complaining about the “completely false” leak, the FBI team saw an opportunity.
“At a minimum, the letter provides us a pretext to interview,” Strzok wrote to Page, an FBI lawyer, on Sept. 26, 2016.
Within weeks, the Justice Department and the FBI applied for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor Page and his activities.
Presenting the infamous “dossier” of unverified claims by anonymous Russian sources against Trump as primary evidence, the FBI obtained the warrant and successfully renewed it three times.
In one email exchange, Solomon reported, Strzok and Page discussed talking points to get then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to persuade a high-ranking DOJ official to sign off on the warrant.
“At a minimum, that keeps the hurry the F up pressure on him,” Strzok emailed Page on Oct. 14, 2016, less than four weeks before Election Day.
Four days later, the same team emailed about rushing to get approval for another FISA warrant for another Russia-related investigation code-named “Dragon.”
Significantly, Solomon reported, the day after Trump won the election, the FBI agents mobilized to “scrub” the people in Trump’s transition team, meaning a search for derogatory information.
“We need ALL of their names to scrub, and we should give them ours for the same purpose,” Strzok emailed Page on Nov. 10, 2016.