The anti-Trump text messages shared between two FBI employees were not actually authorized to be released to the media but they accidentally were, according to the Justice Department.
Nearly 400 text messages between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, out of more than 10,000 being reviewed, were apparently provided to Congress after the media received them, Politico reported.
Democrat members of the House Judiciary Committee asked about the “unusual move” by the Justice Department to release the texts to a select group of reporters earlier this week. Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores, in a statement to Politico, said the release of texts Tuesday before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein publicly testified before the committee on Wednesday, was not meant to happen.
“As we understand now, some members of the media had already received copies of the texts before that — but those disclosures were not authorized by the department,” Flores said.
The texts between Strzok, a senior FBI counterintelligence agent, and Page, an attorney, were discovered by the DOJ Inspector General and were exchanged between the two during the 2016 presidential campaign. Strzok and Page, both Hillary Clinton supporters who were reportedly having an affair, were part of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe team.
Page left the investigation this summer while Strzok was removed from the team and demoted to the agency’s human resources department in July after Mueller learned of the texts, many of which had disparaging comments about Trump.
“Generally speaking, our goal is to be as forthcoming with the media as we can, when it is lawful and appropriate to do so,”Rosenstein said during a Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Wednesday. “So I would not approve anybody disclosing something that was not appropriate to disclose.”
Rosenstein apparently consulted with the Inspector General, who “determined that he had no objection to the department’s providing the material to the congressional committees that had requested it,” Flores told Politico.
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