Republican-led committees reportedly are investigating whether FBI officials once involved in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe helped leak to the media, based in part on text messages they exchanged mentioning news outlets.
The Hill first reported that House and Senate panels are looking anew at the text messages exchanged between agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page, who were romantically involved and exchanged anti-Trump views in their now-public texts.
They also discussed news articles and strategized on how to react. One set of texts -- confirmed by Fox News -- in late October 2016 suggests they knew about a Wall Street Journal article in advance. After Page alerted Strzok to the piece’s publication, Strzok responded:
“Boy that was fast. ... Should I ‘find’ it and tell the team?”
Other text messages reviewed by The Hill showed the two agents seemingly attempting to track down New York Times reporter Matt Apuzzo, who has covered the Russia collusion investigation.
“We got a list of kids with their parents’ names. How many Matt Apuzzo’s (sic) could there be in DC,” Page texted. “Showed J a picture, he said he thinks he has seen a guy who kinda looks like that, but always really schlubby. I said that sounds like every reporter I have ever seen.”
Strzok texted back, “He’s TOTALLY schlubby. Don’t you remember?”
In another exchange, Strzok warns Page against using her work phone to hunt for information on the reporter.
“I wouldn’t search on your work phone, no idea what that might trigger,” he texted.
“Oops. Too late,” she responded.
Asked about the report, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum” he’s not surprised someone at the bureau may have been leaking.
He said his committee has broad concerns that bureau officials who weren’t authorized were speaking to the media.
Strzok was an FBI counterintelligence agent but was removed from Mueller’s probe and reassigned to the FBI’s human resources division after the discovery of the exchanges with Page, with whom he was having an affair. Page was briefly on Mueller’s team as well, but has since returned to the FBI.
Many of the text messages were critical of Trump, referring to the then-candidate as a "loathsome human" and "an idiot" – their discovery fueled GOP concerns of bias at the bureau and inside the special counsel’s team.
Members of Congress are reviewing the texts and looking to speak with the FBI officials.
The House Intelligence Committee is in the process of scheduling eight witnesses including Strzok and Page. Committee investigators also got access to the remaining documents they had long sought as part of their Russia inquiry during a classified session at the Justice Department on Friday, a source close to the matter told Fox News.
The documents were described as core records concerning the controversial anti-Trump dossier and its handling by the FBI – including witness interview summaries for confidential sources or informants. While the dossier was commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, author and former British spy Christopher Steele also was a source for the FBI – first relaying some information in July 2016, the same month the Clinton email case closed for the first time and the Russia counter-intelligence case opened.
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.