The more we learn, the more the deluge of classified leaks about the totally irrelevant Trump dossier become explicable.
The Hill reports today on an overview of the 300+ text messages between former number two guy in the FBI’s counterintelligence operation, Peter Strzok, and his paramour, FBI attorney, and friend of Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page. Strzok and Page, you’ll recall, were assigned to Mueller’s investigation. They were removed when it was revealed they were sending anti-Trump/pro-Hillary text messages to each other on their government smartphones. Strzok is the guy who made an ominous reference to having an “insurance policy” to keep Trump from being elected. Strzok is the guy who interviewed Mike Flynn. These texts aren’t conclusive but they strongly suggest that both Strzok and Page were leaking information to the media.
In one exchange, FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and bureau lawyer Lisa Page engaged in a series of texts shortly before Election Day 2016 suggesting they knew in advance about an article in The Wall Street Journal and would need to feign stumbling onto the story so it could be shared with colleagues.
“Article is out, but hidden behind paywall so can’t read it,” Page texted Strzok on Oct. 24, 2016.
“Wsj? Boy that was fast,” Strzok texted back, using the initials of the famed financial newspaper. “Should I ‘find’ it and tell the team?”
The text messages, which were reviewed by The Hill, show the two FBI agents discussed how they might make it appear they innocently discovered the article, such as through Google News alerts.
In one string of text messages just five days before Election Day 2016, Page, the lawyer, alerted Strzok, the counterintelligence agent, to a story in The Washington Post about a timeline in the controversial Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Page mentions a conversation she had just had with FBI chief of staff James Rybicki and openly expressed concern the information about the FBI’s timeline was too specific for comfort in the article.
“Sorry, Rybicki called. Time line article in the post (sic) is super specific and not good. Doesn’t make sense because I didn’t have specific information to give.”
A few days earlier Strzok texted Page about another new article, suggesting it was anti-FBI. “Yep, the whole tone is anti-Bu. Just a tiny bit from us,” he wrote.
Page texted she had seen the article. “Makes me feel WAY less bad about throwing him under the bus to the forthcoming CF article,” she texted. Congressional investigators are still trying to determine what the “CF article” reference means and who the agents thought they were trying to throw “under the bus.”
Republicans want to interview Page to determine if she assisted with any “forthcoming” articles or helped another FBI employee “give” information to the news media, particularly because she helped advise then-deputy director McCabe.
Likewise, congressional investigators want to question Strzok about what he meant about the “tiny bit from us” reference.
And this head scratcher:
The two agents also spent extensive time shortly before the 2016 election trying to track down information — including an address and a spouse’s job — about The New York Times reporter Matt Apuzzo, who has reported on numerous developments in the Russia case.
“We got a list of kids with their parents’ names. How many Matt Apuzzo’s (sic) could there be in DC,” Page texted. “Showed J a picture, he said he thinks he has seen a guy who kinda looks like that, but always really schlubby. I said that sounds like every reporter I have ever seen.”
A minute later, Page added another text: “Found what I think might be their address, too.”
Strzok writes back, “He’s TOTALLY schlubby. Don’t you remember?”
Page responded later by saying she found information on the reporter’s wife too. “Found address looking for her. Lawyer.”
Strzok cautions Page against using the work phone to track down information on the reporter. “I wouldn’t search on your work phone, ,,, no idea what that might trigger,” he texted.
“Oops. Too late,” she responded back.
Apuzzo declined comment when contacted on his cell phone.
Why are they trying to track down the address of the spouse of a reporter? Because they have documents they want to hand off to him and they don’t want to make actual physical contact with him.
And nothing would be complete without the Michael Wolff touch:
Occasionally the two also opined about the media in general. Strzok, for instance, called a New York Post article about agents unhappy with the outcome of the Clinton email case “stupid,” and referred to Fox anchor Chris Wallace as a “turd.”
After one of the presidential debates, Strzok also had an observation about then-Fox anchor and current NBC anchor Megyn Kelly. “Vaguely satisfying to see Megyn Kelly (who had Botox and looks HORRIBLE) utterly going after Trump,” he texted.
This is just the beginning for the revelations that are going to start flowing on the role of FBI senior management in trying to weaponize the Trump dossier to prevent Trump’s election and, later, to hamstring his administration.
Impt to remember what House Intel is looking at now. Finally got ahold of 1023 forms. 1023s document the info exchanged and interaction between FBI agents and their confidential human sources. Steele was a source. Notable that FBI fought so hard against turning 1023s over.
— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) January 8, 2018
These records plus Fusion GPS’s bank records are going to be interesting when read together.
And now the House Intelligence Committee is focusing on why Mueller’s top deputy, Andrew Weissman, met with a group of reporters back in April. Weissman was the guy who sent fired deputy attorney general Sally Yates a fawning email praising her for refusing to defend Trump’s travel executive order in court.