Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) said on Fox News Channel on Wednesday that “there is an indication” that there was “a number of high level FBI officials holding offsite meetings,” ostensibly to prevent President Donald Trump’s election and hamper his presidency. Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told the Fox News interviewer that he would not identify his sources.
Johnson, who also sits on the Senate Records Committee and speaks with government whistleblowers, told Bill Hemmer of Fox News Channel, “Again I can’t really put a number on it right now. More than just Strzok and Page. But understand Strzok and Page were very high level within the FBI.” Republicans have not only charged that elements of the FBI and DOJ are tainted with political bias, but also the investigation currently being pursued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller interviewed Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week, and also interviewed former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired in January 2017.
On Tuesday night, Johnson joined Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) -- who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, - in announcing that they had written a joint letter to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz about text messages between FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page that were critical of Trump. Strzok was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller team because of the exchanges with Page, who was also on the team. These texts were discovered by DOJ Inspector General Horowitz, who is conducting an investigation into charges of political bias at DOJ and the FBI. DOJ has released some of the text messages to media outlets and members of Congress.
Suspicions have been rampant since the release on January 19 of the 384 pages of texts between Page and Strzok because DOJ asserted that many of the texts are now missing. In an accompanying note, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote, “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 from December 14, 2016 to approximately to May 17, 2017.” Boyd blamed “misconfiguration issues” on “FBI-provided Samsung 5 mobile devices.”
President Trump tweeted twice about the controversy on Tuesday, writing that the missing texts constitute “one of the biggest stories” of recent times. “In one of the biggest stories in a long time, the FBI now says it is missing five months worth of lovers Strzok-Page texts, perhaps 50,000, and all in prime time. Wow!” Trump added in another tweet, “Where are the 50,000 important text messages between FBI lovers Lisa Page and Peter Strzok? Blaming Samsung!”
In their letter to DOJ Inspector General Horowitz, Grassley and Johnson ask why Congress was not notified earlier about the missing texts. Calling on Horowitz to provide all communications related to the missing texts, Grassley and Johnson called on him to respond by January 29.
Reportedly, Horowitz expects to release by this spring the findings of the investigation to uncovered the text messages. The investigation is focused on how the FBI under then-Director James Comey pursued its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server while secretary of state, as well as alleged misconduct by Comey and current Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
On Tuesday, Trump expressed confidence in FBI Director Christopher Wray and told media that he has not called for his resignation.