Newly surfaced text messages between former FBI lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that refer to government employees "leaking like mad" in the runup to the Russia collusion probe are a "disaster and embarrassment" to the Department of Justice, President Trump tweeted Thursday.
The text messages, first reported by Fox News on Wednesday, are the latest evidence to bolster Trump's claim that elements within the government were trying to undermine him when Special Counsel Robert Mueller launched his probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“More text messages between former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page are a disaster and embarrassment to the FBI & DOJ. This should never have happened but we are learning more and more by the hour. ‘Others were leaking like mad’ in order to get the President!” Trump tweeted, quoting the Fox News report.
Fox News on Wednesday obtained new text messages between Strzok and Page dated Dec. 15, 2016. The texts were part of a lengthy exchange, and appeared to reveal a potential operation to leak for “political purposes.”
“Oh, remind me to tell you tomorrow about the times doing a story about the rnc hacks,” Page texted Strzok.
“And more than they already did? I told you Quinn told me they pulling out all the stops on some story…” Strzok replied.
A source told Fox News “Quinn” could be referring to Richard Quinn, who served as the chief of the Media and Investigative Publicity Section in the Office of Public Affairs at the FBI. Quinn could not be reached for comment.
Strzok again replied: “Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried, and political, they’re kicking into overdrive.”
In one passage, Strzok apparently misread a reference to “rnc” as “mc,” and then, realizing his error, blamed his “old man eyes.”
It is unclear at this point whom Strzok was referring to when he used the term “sisters,” though some in the intelligence community have speculated it could be in reference to another government agency.
There are 17 agencies in the Intelligence Community, including the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency, and the FBI.
The “leaking like mad” text came on the same day that several news outlets reported that U.S. intelligence officials said they were convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved, and approved Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Days before, The New York Times published an article titled “Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says,” citing "senior administration officials."
A story published by The New York Times weeks, on Jan. 10, 2017, suggested that Russian hackers “gained limited access” to the Republican National Committee. Jan. 10, 2017 is also the same day BuzzFeed News published the infamous anti-Trump dossier.
Following the text about “sisters leaking,” Strzok wrote to Page:
“And we need to talk more about putting C reporting in our submission. They’re going to declassify all of it…”
Page replied: “I know. But they’re going to declassify their stuff, how do we withhold…”
“We will get extraordinary questions. What we did what we’re doing. Just want to ensure everyone is good with it and has thought thru all implications,” Strzok wrote. “CD should bring it up with the DD.”
A source told Fox News that “C” is likely in reference to classified information, whereas “CD” is Cyber Division, and DD could refer to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
McCabe was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March for making an unauthorized disclosure to the news media, and "lacked candor" under oath on multiple occassions.
It is unclear what “submission” Strzok and Page were referring to.
A source told Fox News that the messages were part of a newly released batch of Strzok-Page communications from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, uncovered as part of his investigation into the start of the FBI’s Russia investigation.
A spokesman for the inspector general declined to comment to Fox News.
Strzok and Page were first brought into the spotlight last December, when it was revealed that Horowitz discovered a series of anti-Trump text messages between the two officials, who were romantically involved.
Strzok and Page both served on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election. Page served on the special counsel’s team on a short detail, returning back to the FBI’s Office of General Counsel in July 2017.
The discovery of the anti-Trump messages exchanged with Page ultimately got Strzok booted from Mueller’s team and reassigned last year to the FBI’s office of human resources.
In July, Strzok lost his security clearance and was escorted from his FBI office. In August, Strzok was officially fired from the FBI.
Both Strzok and Page testified on Capitol Hill this summer.
Horowitz released a 600-page report on the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while conducting official business as secretary of state.
The inspector general report found that some bureau officials “appeared to mix political opinion with discussions about the MYE investigation.” MYE refers to Midyear Exam, which was the FBI’s code word for the Clinton probe.
Horowitz, found no evidence that the political bias found impacted prosecutorial decisions in the Clinton email probe.
Horowitz confirmed in June that he is currently investigating whether Strzok’s anti-Trump bias factored into the launch of the bureau’s Russia investigation.