On Friday, newly-revealed text messages showed that two senior federal law enforcement officials who were key figures in investigations into Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton allegedly conspired to meet with the judge who presided over the case against Michael Flynn.
The judge, Rudolph Contreras, was recused from handling Flynn's case but only after he accepted a "guilty plea of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser who was charged with making false statements to federal investigators," The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway reported.
The never-before-seen text messages about Contreras were between anti-Trump FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and anti-Trump FBI attorney Lisa Page. Sara A. Carter reports on the July 25, 2016, exchange between Strzok and Page:
Page: “Rudy is on the FISC! Did you know that? Just appointed two months ago.”
Strzok: “I did. We talked about it before and after. I need to get together with him.”
Page: “Thought of it because you had to Google FISC judges and him there. I’m telling you.”
Strzok: “….She brought up a good point about being circumspect in talking to him in terms of not placing him into a situation where he’d have to recuse himself.”
Page: “I can’t imagine you either one of you could talk about anything in detail meaningful enough to warrant recusal ... Anyway, maybe you meant to, but didn’t.’
Strzok: “Really? Rudy. I’m in charge of espionage for the FBI. Any espionage FISA comes before him, what should he do? Given his friend oversees them?”
Page: “Standards for recusal are quite high. I just don’t think this poses an actual conflict. And he doesn’t know what you do?”
Strzok: “Generally he does know what I do. Not the level or scope or area but he’s super thoughtful and rigorous about ethics and conflicts. (redacted) suggested a social setting with others would probably be better than a one on one meeting. I’m sorry, I’m just going to have to invite you to that cocktail party. Of course you’ll be there. Have to come up with some other work people cover for action.”
Page: “Why more? Six is a perfectly fine dinner party.”
Contreras accepted Flynn’s guilty plea in federal court on December 1, 2017, which was the day before The New York Times revealed that Strzok had been removed from the case by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for text messages that revealed his extreme bias against the president. The Federalist further notes:
The text messages that show Page and Strzok conspiring to meet with Contreras were originally hidden from Congress. In records provided by DOJ to Congress, the exchanges referencing Contreras, and plans to meet with him under the guise of a cocktail party, were completely redacted by federal law enforcement officials. The exchanges obtained by The Federalistinclude information that was never turned over to Congress.
The Federalist adds that neither Contreras nor any other federal judiciary official had ever indicated the reason that Contreras was removed from the Flynn case.