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Some Missing FBI Texts Are Recovered, DOJ Inspector General Says

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in 2012.
J. Scott Applewhite
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in 2012.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz says his office has recovered some missing FBI texts that received considerable attention because they came from two FBI employees who briefly worked on the Russia influence investigation.

The texts are between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The two were having an affair, and they exchanged a lot of messages on their FBI work phones.

NPR's Carrie Johnson reported on All Things Considered that the messages were uncovered during a Justice Department review conducted by Horowitz:

"Congress has some of them, but thousands appear to be missing — not just the messages from Page and Strzok, who both worked for a time on the Russia investigation, but also other people.

"The inspector general is telling Congress that it seems to have recovered some of those missing texts involving Page and Strzok. And the FBI says there's an innocent explanation. It was a technical glitch when the bureau was moving from one version of a cellphone to another."

Horowitz did not say how many messages were recovered.

The Washington Post reports:

"In a letter to congressional leaders, Horowtiz said his effort to locate more [texts] was 'ongoing.' He said he would provide copies to the Justice Department and would not object if leaders there determined it was appropriate to turn them over to Congress. A Justice Department official has said that the FBI failed to save text messages sent from thousands of cellphones, including Page's and Strzok's."

Page and Strzok worked briefly for special counsel Robert Mueller's team looking into whether Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election.

In one text, Strzok repeatedly called Trump an "idiot."

President Trump and others say the text messages suggest an anti-Trump bias at the FBI that may have tainted the Russia investigation.

Strzok was removed from the Mueller team once the text messages came to light, and Page had left the team shortly before that.

NPR's Ryan Lucas reported this week:

"The Justice Department provided lawmakers on Capitol Hill with an initial tranche of nearly 400 text messages in December. It recently delivered thousands more.

"The FBI's failure to retain the messages over that critical period — during part of the presidential transition up to Mueller's appointment — has added fuel to the political fire and allegations of a 'deep state' cover-up at the FBI.

"Republicans have vowed to get to the bottom of the missing texts. Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter to call the missing texts 'one of the biggest stories in a long time.'

'The FBI now says it is missing five months worth of lovers Strzok-Page texts,' he wrote, 'perhaps 50,000, and all in prime time. Wow!'"

The FBI has blamed the missing texts on a misconfiguration issue related to software upgrades on its mobile devices.

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Doreen McCallister