Two top FBI officials under fire for exchanging anti-Trump text messages during the 2016 election spoke of a “secret society” the day after President Trump's victory, according to two lawmakers with knowledge of the messages.
Peter Strzok -- a top counterintelligence official involved in both the Hillary Clinton email probe and FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe -- exchanged more than 50,000 messages with senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was romantically involved.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, said Monday that among the messages the pair exchanged are references to a “secret society” within the Department of Justice and the FBI.
“We learned today about information that in the immediate aftermath of [Trump’s] election, that there may have been a secret society of folks within the Department of Justice and the FBI -- to include Page and Strzok -- that would be working against him,” Ratcliffe said Monday on Fox News' “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”
“I’m not saying that actually happened, but when folks speak in those terms, they need to come forward to explain the context with which they used those terms,” he added.
Gowdy said the “secret society” reference occurred the day after Trump won the presidential election in November 2016.
“So of course I’m going to want to know what secret society you’re talking about because you’re supposed to be investigating objectively the person who just won the Electoral College; so yeah I’m going to want to know," he said.
It isn’t the first time the messages have raised questions about what may have been going on at the FBI. In one previously released message, Strzok appeared to make reference to an “insurance policy” against a Trump win.
'So of course I’m going to want to know what secret society you’re talking about because you’re supposed to be investigating objectively the person who just won the Electoral College, so yeah I’m going to want to know.'
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40…” he wrote.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Strzok claims the message was addressing a colleague who felt the FBI could take its time with allegations of Trump/Russia collusion because Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was thought certain to win.
"Andy," meanwhile, may have been a reference to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who is at the center of new tensions with the Trump administration.
Axios reported late Monday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, urged by President Trump, has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire McCabe.
The outlet reported that Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was fired. White House Counsel Don McGahn reportedly told Sessions that McCabe wasn’t worth losing the FBI director over and risking another media firestorm like when Trump axed former director James Comey last year.
“We will leave no stone unturned to confirm with certainty why these text messages are not now available to be produced and will use every technology available to determine whether the missing messages are recoverable from another source,” Sessions said in a statement provided to Fox News. “If we are successful, we will update the congressional committees immediately.”
The missing messages from Strzok and Page span a crucial window, between the presidential transition and the launch of Mueller’s Russia probe. Strzok was removed from the probe by Mueller after he learned of the messages.
On Tuesday, President Trump described the missing messages as "one of the biggest stories in a long time."
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.