A top Republican congressman claims there was a ‘coordinated effort’ among high-level FBI and Justice Department officials to leak ‘harmful’ material about Donald Trump to the media.
In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Monday, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., highlighted a text message exchange between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page.
‘I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about media leak strategy with DOJ before you go,’ Strzok texted Page on April 10, 2017, according to new documents from the Justice Department.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., claims there was a ‘systemic culture of media leaking’ among high-level FBI and Justice Department officials
Meadows, R-N.C., highlighted a text message exchange between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page
Strzok and Page were reportedly having an affair and Strzok, a former investigator in the Robert Mueller probe and the Hillary Clinton investigation, was fired over the series of anti-Trump text messages on his FBI phone.
They included one stating ‘we’ll stop’ Trump from becoming president,
Two days after Strzok’s first message, he texted Page: ‘Well done, Page,’ before informing her that two negative articles about her ‘namesake’ were imminent.
Page’s ‘namesake’ refers to former Trump adviser Carter Page, who was surveilled by the FBI for months after they were granted a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. The DOJ and the FBI were able to convince the court that Carter Page ‘was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia,’ according to a Washington Post story.
A dossier written by ex-British spy Christopher Steele also played a key role in convincing the judge to grant the FISA warrant in October 2016.
In his letter, Meadows wrote that Strzok and Page’s text exchanges ‘should lead a reasonable person to question whether there was a sincere desire to investigate wrongdoing or to place derogatory information in the media to justify a continued probe.’
Neither Strzok and Page, nor the FBI and DOJ commented when reached for comment by Fox News.
Strzok and Page were reportedly having an affair and Strzok, a former investigator in the Robert Mueller probe and the Hillary Clinton investigation, was fired over the series of anti-Trump (pictured) text messages on his FBI phone
Bruce Ohr (R), former U.S. associate deputy attorney general, maintained contacts with ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele
Carter Page has now been charged with any crime despite the FBI probe.
The new DOJ documents also reveal that the FBI’s argument for a warrant to surveil Carter Page leaned heavily on a Yahoo News article which they claimed provided independent evidence to investigate him.
In fact, the source Yahoo quoted was Steele.
Meadows also noted that the FBI and DOJ officials met with Associated Press reporters in April 2017, according to court records in Paul Manafort’s trial.
He added that there is ‘troubling evidence’ that the FBI and DOJ continue a strategy of coordinate leaks to the media, adding that even if they are unauthorized, they still shake confidence in the impartiality at the bureau.
Trump adviser Carter Page, who was surveilled by the FBI for months after they were granted a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court
Democrats on those same panels have argued that declassification would be a crass political move in advance of an election.
The publication quoted Meadows of North Carolina saying: ‘After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DOJ and FBI acted properly.’
Trump has railed against Ohr, a career Justice official who ran an organized crime task force, over his contacts with Steele, who wrote the dossier alleging the Russians had compromising material on Trump.
Trump has regularly brought up that Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS, the political intelligence firm that contracted Steele for the dossier.
Ohr and Steele also had communications during the campaign. In emails Steele wrote to Ohr seeking help identifying a contact …
Ohr told lawmakers Steele told him at a July 2016 breakfast that Russian intelligence believed ‘over a barrel,’ he reportedly testified to lawmakers. The breakfast took place after Kremlin-backed hackers had already stolen Democratic emails.
A dossier written by ex-British spy Christopher Steele also played a key role in convincing the judge to grant the FISA warrant in October 2016
Ohr acknowledged to Congress that he didn’t tell his superiors about what he learned from Steele.
Ohr lost his title of associate deputy attorney last December and relinquished leadership of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force.
Republicans have cited his meeting with Steele after the election and his failure to list his wife’s work on government disclosure forms as factors that taint the Russia probe, although there have been no indications he signed off on surveillance warrants or other materials at the start of the probe.
Ohr and Steele were both part of an effort to flip Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to try to secure cooperation against Russian President Vladimir Putin between 2014 and 2016, the
Trump and Republicans in Congress maintain that the FBI relied on the Steele dossier to get surveillance on Carter Page and start the Russia probe. FBI officials have testified that the dossier only corroborated information the bureau was already obtaining.
Trump asked in a July tweet ‘how the hell’ Ohr was still working at the Justice Department, after including him on a list of officials who could lose their security clearances.
‘I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace,’ Trump wrote. ‘I suspect I’ll be taking it away very quickly. For him to be in the Justice Department and doing what he did, that is a disgrace.’
Trump tweeted about Ohr numerous times in August.
‘Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions ‘Justice’ Department? A total joke!’ Trump tweeted August 20.
Republicans also want to unseal documents related to surveillance warrants on Page, who an investor who advised Trump’s campaign. Page had lived in Russia, traveled to Moscow during the campaign, and had been suspected by U.S. counterintelligence of being a possible Russian agent since 2013.