President Trump said Monday that the Russia probe “should never have been allowed,” citing newly reported statements from ex-FBI official Lisa Page that investigators could not say whether there was Russian collusion more than nine months into the original probe.
Fox News reported over the weekend that Page, during a transcribed July interview before House committees as part of a congressional investigation into the Justice Department's handling of the Russia and Clinton email probes, said investigators were unsure on the issue “even as far as May 2017,” when James Comey was fired as FBI director and Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed.
“Therefore, the case should never have been allowed to be brought. It is a totally illegal Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted Monday, citing the report.
Fox News also reported Monday that messages between Page and former agent Peter Strzok discussing whether to open a "case" in a "formal chargeable way" after Comey was fired have come under fresh scrutiny in light of Page’s statement to the committees.
Two hours after Comey's termination became public on May 9, 2017, Strzok texted Page, his then-colleague and lover: "We need to open the case we've been waiting on now while Andy is acting."
"Andy" is a reference to then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe who temporarily took over the bureau until Christopher Wray was confirmed as director in August 2017.
Page, a former FBI attorney, replied to Strzok: "We need to lock in (redacted). In a formal chargeable way. Soon."
Strzok concurred. "I agree. I've been pushing and I'll reemphasize with Bill," believed to be Bill Priestap, the head of the FBI's counterintelligence division.
On Monday, Trump also cited those texts in another tweet, asking: "Wow, a conspiracy caught?"
The text messages were provided to Congress earlier this year, and among the six months of missing messages blamed on software and technical issues with the FBI-issued Samsung phones.
Fox News has learned that during her July deposition, Page declined to clarify the May 9 text.
Mueller's investigation has since resulted in a slew of indictments and plea deals unrelated to Russia collusion, most recently a deal with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.