GOP demands answers on damning new Strzok texts that discuss a deluge of leaks

Screengrab CBS News

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, released previously unpublished texts and emails from fired FBI agent Peter Strzok.

More damning communications that center on a “crescendo of leaks.”

The Republican lawmakers are asking Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson to explain why he hasn’t said if an investigation into a number of leaks of highly sensitive information is underway, according to Fox News.

The inquiry comes as U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation of the investigators “has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation, enabling Durham to subpoena witnesses and file charges,” Fox News reported. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz also announced on Thursday his report on possible surveillance abuses is set to be released soon.

Sens. Johnson and Grassley pointed to a specific text from Strzok to his lover at the time, bureau attorney Lisa Page on Dec. 15, 2016.

“Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried and political, they’re kicking in to overdrive,” Strzok said.

“What are they worried about, and what are they kicking into ‘overdrive?'” asked the senators in a letter to Atkinson. “Who are the ‘sisters,’ and what does it mean to say that the ‘sisters have [been] leaking like mad?'”

An April 2017 email from Strzok to FBI colleagues that said an unidentified “agency” might be the “source of some of the leaks” to the media was also cited by Johnson and Grassley.

“I’m beginning to think the agency got info a lot earlier than we thought and hasn’t shared it completely with us,” Strzok wrote. “Might explain all these weird/seemingly incorrect leads all these media folks have. Would also highlight agency as a source of some of the leaks.”

Here are other highlighted Strzok exchanges from Fox News.

In a June 6, 2017 email to Page, Strzok mused, “Think there will be a crescendo of leaks/articles leading up to Thurs.”

And, a Dec. 13, 2016 text message apparently showed Strzok trying to set up a Skype meeting with a reporter. “Text from reporter: retrieving my password for Skype,” he wrote.

 

It has been well reported that Strzok’s bosses at the time, former FBI director James Comey and deputy director Andrew McCabe were not above leaking to the media.

Strzok was a leading investigator in both the Hillary Clinton and Russian collusion probes. The disgraced agent and Page exchanged hundreds of texts exhibiting intense bias against President Donald Trump, with Strzok saying “we’ll stop” then-candidate Trump from becoming president and talking about an “insurance policy” against the possibility.

Johnson and Grassley noted that the Trump administration “has faced 125 leaked stories — one leak a day — containing information that was potentially damaging to national security.”

The lawmakers have previously sought answers from Atkinson but said the ICIG has been nonresponsive to earlier letters.

One reason given was that Atkinson gave closed-door congressional testimony on Capitol Hill and the transcript of his remarks is not yet public.

“We are not aware of any justification for this position, which is particularly concerning given the role of inspectors general in promoting transparency and helping Congress to fulfill its oversight responsibilities,” Grassley and Johnson wrote.

Tom Tillison

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