Former FBI agent Peter Strzok appears to have suspected that the Central Intelligence Agency was orchestrating leaks to the media about alleged contacts between members of Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia, several of which turned out to be wildly inaccurate.
Strzok — who together with his lover, then-Bureau lawyer Lisa Page, expressed their desire to use law enforcement power to “stop” Donald Trump from becoming president — said in an April 2017 email that signs pointed to the agency's involvement.
"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," Strzok wrote in an email to FBI colleagues.
The revelation comes after Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin asked Michael K. Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, if he had probed whether the CIA was involved in leaking to the media.
Along with the April 2017 email, the two senators cite a December 2016 text message that Strzok — who was serving as the top investigator on the Trump-Russia probe — sent to Page, with whom he was having an affair.
"Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried and political, they’re kicking in to overdrive," Strzok wrote.
"Strzok did not identify a specific leak, but a day earlier, NBC News broke a bombshell story that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in the U.S. election hacks. The story was sourced to 'senior U.S. intelligence officials,'" The Daily Caller wrote. Strzok's April email referred to a report by The Guardian, titled "British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia," which, as The Daily Caller notes, "appears to have raised his suspicion that the CIA, which is referred to in government circles as 'the agency,' had intelligence that had not been shared with the FBI."
The two Republican senators say the emails and text messages should prompt a probe into the intelligence community's involvement. The messages "demonstrate the need to investigate leaks from agencies or entities other than FBI," said Johnson, the Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman, and Grassley, who is the Senate Finance Committee chairman.
"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 senators wrote.
During a Senate hearing last week, Attorney General Bill Barr testified that the Justice Department is conducting "multiple criminal leak investigations" into media contact with department officials that occurred during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russia collusion.