A new report released on Wednesday by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin alleges that texts between FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page show that then-President Barack Obama was being informed about the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton email controversy. The senator’s report puts a focus on the scandal, and includes Strzok, who was one of the top FBI agents assigned to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of supposed ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, and Page. Johnson serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Sen. Johnson alleges that texts between Page and Strzok show that they were preparing talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey because Obama may have wanted to be apprised of the case. Page wrote on Sept. 2, 2016, that she was preparing the talking points because "potus wants to know everything we’re doing." POTUS is an abbreviation for President of the United States. Johnson’s report also notes that Comey claimed that he had not consulted with either the White House or the Department of Justice, thus contradicting claims made in the communication between Strzok and Page.
If indeed Obama was being kept abreast of the proceedings of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton, it would run counter to his vow on national television in April 2016 on Fox News. When reporter Chris Wallace asked whether Obama could give assurances that Hillary Clinton would not be treated differently, Obama said, “I can guarantee that. And I can guarantee that, not because I gave Attorney General Lynch a directive, that is institutionally how we have always operated. I do not talk to the Attorney General about pending investigations. I do not talk to FBI directors about pending investigations. We have a strict line and always have maintained it.”
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump tweeted, "NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!" while Johnson and fellow Republicans wrote in the report that the reference to Obama "raises additional questions about the type and extent of President Obama's personal involvement in the Clinton email scandal and the FBI investigation of it." These questions, declared the report, "deserve further examination," including whether "any personal animus and/or political bias influenced the FBI’s investigation," and whether the Justice Department or White House influenced the investigation.
Texts between Page and Strzok reveal a distinct bias against Trump. For example, on August 6, 2016, texts between the two discussed how their work was "meant to protect the country from that menace," in a reference to Trump. On August 15, 2016, an exchange between the two noted that they "can't take that risk" of a Trump presidency.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Wednesday that the latest texts "further shows that there is reason for us to have great cause for concern."
Sen. Johnson told NBC News that the texts were "totally candid, unvarnished" and "just raise an awful lot of questions." He said, "They’re cryptic. They’re not complete, there is redactions in those things," He noted that DOJ had redacted some text messages that "were personal in nature or relating to other investigations." Also, Johnson said that he is not confident in the current leadership of the DOJ or FBI.
In December, DOJ released 90 pages of other texts between Page and Strzok in which they betrayed their disgust with Trump. Strzok removed from special counsel Mueller’s team last year, once the texts became known internally.