President Trump calls new FBI texts ‘bombshells’
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said hundreds of newly disclosed text messages exchanged between two FBI officials in 2015 and in the runup to the 2016 presidential campaign are “bombshells.”
Those texts were released Tuesday night by a Senate committee probing the FBI‘s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton‘s email practices. The committee said in a report that the texts confirm a need for further inquiry.
The texts include messages expressing disdain for then-presidential candidate Trump, references to then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch allegedly knowing in advance that Clinton would not face criminal charges and comparisons of possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia with the Watergate scandal.
NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2018
That tweet came 10 minutes after the scheduled start of Trump’s intelligence briefing at the White House.
Trump has repeatedly criticized the FBI’s investigation of possible coordination between officials in his campaign and Russian interests, and its probe of the Clinton emails.
The texts released were exchanged between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Strzok was removed last summer from special counsel Robert Mueller‘s ongoing investigation of Russian meddling after Mueller was made aware of his texts with Page.
Strzok had headed the Clinton email investigation before it was closed — temporarily, as it turned out — in July 2016 without criminal charges being filed.
He then was tasked with investigating Russian efforts to influence that year’s elections.
On Sept. 2, 2016, Page texted Strzok confirming his suspicion that a scheduled meeting he was to have Sept. 7 was in connection with talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey.
“Yes, bc potus wants to know everything we are doing,” Page texted, referring to then-President Barack Obama.
It is not clear, however, if Obama wanted to know about the Clinton email probe, the Russia investigation or something else.
The text was sent more than a month after the FBI first closed its probe of Clinton’s email practices without recommending criminal charges. That probe was reopened temporarily in late September 2016 after the FBI learned that Clinton aide Huma Abedin had forwarded emails to a computer belonging to her husband, former congressman Anthony Weiner.
And the Sept. 2 text came in the midst of the FBI’s investigation of Russian meddling in the upcoming presidential election.
Obama met three days after the Sept. 2, 2016, text with Russian leader Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in China.
In a December press conference, Obama said that at that summit he had confronted Putin about interference in the election.
“I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn’t happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out, and there were going to be some serious consequences if he didn’t,” Obama told reporters at that time.
“And, in fact, we did not see further tampering of the election process.”
The Republican majority of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs on Tuesday said the raft of text messages raises “several important questions that deserve further examination.”
Those questions include if and to what extent any personal animus or political bias affected the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s emails, whether the Obama administration influenced that investigation and if any political bias affected the FBI’s actions toward Trump and his campaign.
“This report is not intended to answer these questions, but to demonstrate that the information received warrants further inquiry to examine possible bias and wrongdoing within the FBI and the Justice Department,” the GOP majority said.
“Any serious and impartial reader of this material should find it hard to deny the need for further inquiry.”
The committee, chaired by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., concluded that its report found:
The FBI did not use a grand jury to compel testimony and obtain the vast majority of evidence, choosing instead to offer immunity deals and allow fact witnesses to join key interviews.
There were substantial edits to former FBI Director James Comey’s public statement that served to downplay the severity of Secretary Clinton’s actions, and that the first draft of the memo was distributed for editing two months before key witnesses were interviewed.
Director Comey stated that he had not consulted with the Justice Department or White House, when text messages among FBI agents involved in the investigation suggest otherwise. Two key investigators discuss an “insurance policy” against the “risk” of a Trump presidency, and “OUR task.”
Messages discuss “unfinished business,” “an investigation leading to impeachment,” and “my gut sense and concern there’s no big there there.” The messages strongly underscore the need to obtain still-missing text messages and other information regarding the FBI’s actions and investigations into the Clinton email scandal and Russian involvement in the November 2016 election.
Senior FBI officials — likely including Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — knew about newly discovered emails on a laptop belonging to former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner for almost a month before Director Comey notified Congress.
Spokesmen for both the FBI and for Obama declined to comment on the report.
CNBC has requested comment from the Democratic members of the Senate committee.