What happened to the people who were responsible for former IRS employee Lois Lerner’s data at the Internal Revenue Service? You know, the ones who mysteriously decided to physically destroy the hard drives of the woman who was at the center of the agency’s targeting scandal. Where are they these days?
I personally have a theory, although I don’t really have any evidence behind it beyond sheer coincidence. I think they got transferred to the FBI.
I’ve come to this circumstantial conclusion because the bureau became the latest federal agency to announce that evidence in a major investigation has mysteriously disappeared — just like that!
According to Reuters, the FBI informed the Senate Homeland Security Committee that it’s lost five months of text messages between agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
Strzok, as you might recall, is the man who headed up the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and later was selected to serve on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. He was quickly moved off of the probe, although it wasn’t announced why at the time.
As it turned out, the why of the matter lay in the text messages between himself and Page, who an FBI lawyer as well as was Strzok’s his mistress. They shared a mutual disdain for Donald Trump that evinced one of the more advanced cases of Trump Derangement Syndrome that we’ve been able to diagnose thus far, with both calling Trump things like a “loathsome human” and an “idiot.”
So, imagine the surprise of Sen. Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, when he received a letter from the FBI informing him that text messages between Strzok and Page between Dec. 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017 had vanished.
“The Department wants to bring to your attention that the FBI’s technical system for retaining text messages sent and received on FBI mobile devices failed to preserve text messages for Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page,” a letter from Stephen Boyd, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs at the Justice Department, read, according to The Daily Caller.
Boyd blamed “misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.”
“The result,” he said, “was that data that should have been automatically collected and retained for long-term storage and retrieval was not collected.”
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Johnson expressed his displeasure, The Daily Caller reported.
“The loss of records from this period is concerning because it is apparent from other records that Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page communicated frequently about the investigation,” Johnson wrote.
This communication included one text after it became clear Trump would likely be the nominee in which Strzok said, “Now the pressure really starts to finish [midyear exam].”
“It sure does,” Page said.
Given that this took place in May of 2016 — two months, more or less, before James Comey stepped to the microphone and threw the FBI’s decades of hard-earned credibility in the dustbin by announcing he wouldn’t recommend charges against Hillary Clinton — one can assume that the “midyear exam” refers to the email investigation.
And, given that Strzok heavily edited a draft of Comey’s report — including removing any language which called Clinton “grossly negligent” — one can imagine how he pictured the midyear exam going.
Given that the texts that were lost cover a pretty important period — roughly from the heart of the transition up until the very day that Mueller was appointed as special counsel — the loss is a pretty big deal.
Is it Lois Lerner’s IT people at work? Who knows. Given the relative convenience of this data loss, however, would you be surprised?
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