Newly unearthed messages sent by former FBI agent Peter Strzok have prompted a call for an additional investigation into the bureau's handling of the Russia probe, particularly the FBI’s "apparent awareness of leaks by other agencies or entities to the media."
In a letter sent to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson on Monday, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) highlighted two newly unearthed messages from Strozk — who headed up the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails and was removed from the Russia probe after his biased messages against Donald Trump came to light. The messages raise more questions about the intelligence community's role in leaking information about the Russia investigation.
The senators begin by noting that they requested in late April that Attorney General William Barr look into a text between Strozk and his paramour, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, "in which they discussed sending a 'CI guy' to a briefing for the Trump presidential team to 'assess' the attendees and possibly 'develop potential relationships'" ("CI" being an apparent reference to a confidential informant). "In addition to questions about the meaning of these text messages, we also highlighted our continued concerns about leaks to the media about ongoing investigations," the senators write.
They then point to a new pair of messages from Strzok which appear to relate to "the FBI’s apparent awareness of leaks by other agencies or entities to the media." The first is a text sent by Strzok to Page in December 2016:
Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried and political, they’re kicking in to overdrive.
In April 2017, Strzok sent an email to his FBI colleagues which again references leaks to the press, "specifically, with regard to the publication of an article in The Guardian titled, 'British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia,'" the senators note. Strzok wrote:
I’m beginning to think the agency got info a lot earlier than we thought and hasn’t shared it completely with us. Might explain all these weird/seemingly incorrect leads all these media folks have. Would also highlight agency as source of some of the leaks.
"These texts and emails raise a number of serious questions and concerns," write Johnson and Grassley. "For example, who are the 'sisters' and what does it mean to say that the 'sisters have [been] leaking like mad'? What are they worried about, and what are they kicking into 'overdrive'? Which 'agency' is he referring to and why does Strzok believe the referenced news article highlights that 'agency as [a] source of some of the leaks'?"
The letter was also sent to Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray. In a congressional hearing last week, Barr confirmed that the Justice Department has already begun "multiple criminal leak investigations," Fox News notes.