It’s being reported tonight that Peter Strzok and Lisa Page apparently wanted to use a post election briefing to see if they could develop some spy relationships in the Trump administration.
And it also reveals that they already had one contact in the White House, the Chief of Staff for Mike Pence.
FOX NEWS – Text messages between former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page indicate they discussed using briefings to the Trump team after the 2016 election to identify people they could “develop for potential relationships,” track lines of questioning and “assess” changes in “demeanor” – language one GOP lawmaker called “more evidence” of irregular conduct in the original Russia probe.
Fox News has learned the texts, initially released in 2018 by a Senate committee, are under renewed scrutiny, with GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley and Homeland Security Committee chair Ron Johnson sending a letter Thursday night to Attorney General Bill Barr pushing for more information on the matter.
“Any improper FBI surveillance activities that were conducted before or after the 2016 election must be brought to light and properly addressed,” the senators wrote.
The text messages begin on the evening of Nov. 17 — nine days after the election. The string discusses an email and briefing to “Pence,” presumably Vice President-elect Mike Pence – and appears to refer to another upcoming briefing.
The messages showed Strzok and Page debating staffing for the upcoming briefing and whether it would make sense to stay with the same agent or send a different one. It is unclear from the texts whether these were part of the formal transition-period briefings between outgoing or incoming administrations or routine intelligence briefings.
The texts themselves…
“Re above re email, it might be more important for (redacted) to know that (redacted) briefed Pence, no?” Page writes.
Strzok responds: “I think that’s a good idea. I”ll talk with (redacted) so they build messaging/don’t overlap.”
The texts continue with Strzok telling Page he consulted “Bill” – a possible reference to his supervisor, Bill Priestap – about who to send to handle the briefing.
Strzok: “Talking with Bill. Do we want (redacted) to go with (redacted) instead of (redacted) for a variety of [reasons]?”
Page: “Hmm. Not sure. Would it be unusual to have show up again? Maybe another agent from the team?”
Strzok: “Or, he’s ‘the CI [counter-intelligence] guy.’ Same.might make sense. He can assess if [there] are any new Qs, or different demeanor. If (redacted’s) husband is there, he can see if there are people we can develop for potential relationships.”
Sarah Carter adds this important piece of information about Pence’s Chief of Staff being a contact for Strzok:
The texts and sources reveal that Strzok had one significant contact within the White House – Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Joshua Pitcock, whose wife was working as an analyst for Strzok on the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server. A senior White House official told this news site that Pitcock’s wife recused herself from the Clinton investigation as soon as Pence and Trump became the Republican nominees in July 2016. A senior law enforcement official also told SaraACarter.com that Pitcock’s wife no longer worked under Strzok after she recused herself from the Clinton investigation.
However, the text messages uncovered from November, 2016 and have left questions lingering about the relationship between Strzok, Pitcock and his wife among congressional investigators and lawmakers.
Trump unloaded on Strzok and Page on Hannity tonight, via Fox News:
President Trump, speaking to Fox News’ “Hannity” Thursday night, responded to this report by unloading on Strzok and Page.
“They were trying to infiltrate the administration,” Trump told Sean Hannity. “Really, it’s a coup. It’s spying. It’s hard to believe in this country we would have had that.” Trump called the news “very disconcerting,” and emphasized that the Justice Department’s watchdog previously faulted Strzok’s communications with Page.
Here is Trump’s full interview with Hannity if you want to listen to it. The relevant portion begins around the 2:30 mark: