EXCLUSIVE: Thousands of FBI cellphones were affected by the technical glitch that the DOJ says prevented five months’ worth of text messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page from being stored or uploaded into the bureau’s archive system, federal law enforcement officials tell Fox News.
The missing messages have been at the center of a storm of controversy on Capitol Hill, after the DOJ notified congressional committees that there is a gap in records between Dec. 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017. Strzok and Page are under scrutiny after it was revealed that the former members of Robert Mueller's team exchanged a series of anti-Trump texts during the presidential campaign.
The gap in records covered a crucial period, raising suspicion among GOP lawmakers about how those messages disappeared.
But Fox News is told that the glitch affected the phones of “nearly” 10 percent of the FBI’s 35,000 employees.
Senior Department of Justice officials told Fox News they are "taking steps" to possibly recover the texts from the appropriate cellphone carriers. The same officials told Fox News they are also making every effort to track down the physical cellphones in question so they could be subject to a forensic review.
The missing messages have caused problems for the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General.
Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have sent a letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz noting that the IG's office said on Dec. 13 that it had all the messages between Strzok and Page between Nov. 30, 2016, and July 28, 2017.
Lawmakers later learned of the five-month gap.
The lawmakers want the IG's office to "reconcile" those two points.
The five-month stretch of missing messages covers a period of time that includes President Donald Trump's inauguration, the firings of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James Comey and the standing-up of former FBI Director Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russian officials during the 2016 election.