Judicial Watch: Emails Show Involvement of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page in Launching of Crossfire Hurricane
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 144 pages of emails between former FBI official Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page that show their direct involvement in the opening of Crossfire Hurricane, the bureau’s investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The records also show additional “confirmed classified emails” were found on Hillary Clinton’s unsecure non-state.gov email server “beyond the number presented” in then-FBI Director James Comey’s statements; Strzok and Page questioning the access the Department of Justice was granting Clinton’s lawyers; and Page revealing that the DOJ was making edits to FBI 302s (summaries of interviews) related to the Clinton investigation, also known as Midyear Exam (MYE). The emails detail a discussion about “squashing” an issue related to the Seth Rich controversy.
The records were produced in response to a January 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the DOJ failed to respond to a December 2017 request for communications between Strzok and Page (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00154)).
The FBI is only processing the records at a rate of 500 pages per month and has refused to process text messages. At this rate, the production of these communications won’t be completed until late 2021.
Strzok and Page were key investigators in both the Clinton email and Russia collusion investigations.
On July 31, 2016, the day that the Trump-Russia collusion investigation known as Crossfire Hurricane was launched, Strzok sent an email under the subject line “Opening EC” [presumably standing for Opening Electronic Communication, which would have been needed to launch the FBI investigation] to Johnathan Moffa, a deputy assistant director in the bureau’s Counterintelligence Division, Lisa Page and an unidentified FBI Office of General Counsel official.
Strzok: Hey just realized I need a succinct statement for the Opening EC. To open bidding I propose: [redacted]. Comments, please.
Moffa: I would recommend: [redacted].
Page: I like Jon’s additions and subtraction.
Strzok: Thanks. So: [redacted].[TF1]
In his December 2019 report on the four FISA applications and other aspects of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz noted that “[Bill] Priestap, Strzok’s supervisor, told us that ultimately he was the official who made the decision to open the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, and Strzok then prepared and approved the formal documentation, as required by the DIOG.”
Horowitz also noted: “We found that while she attended some of the discussions, Lisa Page did not play a role in the decision to open Crossfire Hurricane or the four individual cases.”
The new records show that on July 15, 2016, 10 days after Comey’s statement recommending no criminal charges against Clinton in the email investigation, Moffa emailed Strzok and Page informing them that additional classified emails were found among Clinton’s emails “beyond the number presented in the Director’s statements.”
Moffa: I just talked to [redacted]. Yesterday she reviewed some additional USDS classification determinations (which I’m not sure we’ve received via email) and identified additional confirmed emails beyond the numbers presented in the Director’s statements. [Redacted]
I assume you guys may want to get that info up the chain at some point, but I would recommend waiting a couple of hours so we can really lock down the details. This is going to be an ongoing thing I guess since there are still determination requests out there …
Strzok: Yeah I think that’s fine. We anticipated and I think everyone is aware that number would shift as the process went forward.
In his July 5, 2016, statement, Comey said:
From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were ‘up-classified’ to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.”
In a heavily redacted August 10, 2016 email exchange, Strzok sends Page a forwarded message from unidentified agents from the FBI’s Washington Field Office (WFO) who discuss Seth Rich. Rich, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer, was murdered in Washington, D.C. on July 10, 2016. The case reportedly remains open.
A public affairs official whose name was redacted opens the WFO email chain, writing: “Various news outlets are reporting today that Julian Assange suggested during a recent overseas interview that DNC Staffer, Seth Rich was a Wikileaks source, and may have been killed because he leaked the DNC e-mails to his organization, and that Wikileak’s was offering $20,000 for information regarding Rich’s death last month. Based on this news, we anticipate additional press coverage on this matter. I hear that you are in class today; however, when you have a moment, can you please give me a call to discuss what involvement the Bureau has in the investigation.”
An unidentified WFO agent responds: “I’m aware of this reporting from earlier this week but not any specific involvement in any related case.”
An unidentified WFO agent subsequently writes to Moffa and Strzok: “Just FYSA. I squashed this with [redacted]”.
Strzok then forwards the email chain to Page.
In a July 22, 2016, email exchange, Strzok and his boss, assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap, are critical of how deferential the DOJ is being to Clinton’s legal team.
In the exchange, an associate at the law firm representing Clinton’s aides, Hal Brewster of Wilkinson Walsh, asks DOJ officials in the National Security Division (NSD) if they could schedule a meeting the following week. An unidentified NSD official notes, “It is my understanding that [deputy assistant attorney general George] Toscas may have called over to Jim [presumably FBI General Counsel Jim Baker] and Trisha [presumably FBI Office of General Counsel lawyer Trisha Anderson] regarding some high-level participation for at least the first few such calls.”
Later in the thread, an unidentified NSD official says, “In the meantime, I’ll tell Hal that we will certainly schedule a call and will get back to him as to timing. Since he knows Beth [presumably Clinton aides’ attorney Beth Wilkinson] personally, it could be useful to have Jim [Baker] on the phone if she is going to be haranguing us re: the laptops.”
Strzok then writes to an unidentified FBI OGC official, Moffa and Page: “You are perfectly competent to speak to the legal obligations and FBI policies/procedures. We should NOT be treating opposing counsel this way. We would not in any other case.”
Priestap agrees, telling Strzok: “Thank you, and I agree with you on both fronts. My guess is that George [Toscas] will not change his behavior, but thank you for trying. Let me know if it continues, as I can always try to get the DD to refer the issues to us.”
In another July 22, 2016, email exchange, Strzok and Preistap seem to be critical of Baker’s handling of the Clinton case:
Baker tells colleagues: “Got it. George asked me to participate if possible, so maybe I can join this one and then see where we are at.”
Baker’s email is forwarded to Strzok, who tells Page, Moffa and Priestap: “Lisa/Bill, can you talk to him [presumably Baker]? This is wrong.”
Page responds: “I’m planning to. I agree, I find his participation wholly unnecessary.”
Priestap writes: “Lisa: When you speak to him, please tell him that I also believe it is unnecessary, and please let me know the outcome of your conversation.”
Page replies, “I spoke with Jim a little earlier, I explained [redacted]. Anyway, he said he appreciated the call and would give it some thought. I also offered that if he felt badly about backing down from what he told George, Trisha would be acceptable, but still was entirely unnecessary. Let me know if you have any questions.”
A redacted FBI attorney then responds: “We spend entirely too much time in this case soothing [redacted’s] hurt feelings. I cannot believe that a grown man, a professional adult, continues to tattle. AND IT WORKS. Seriously … I am completely bewildered that this goes on in a professional workplace. And then he calls MY professionalism (and the FBI’s) into question.” [Emphasis in original]
Strzok responds: “I know; it’s very frustrating. I talked at length with [redacted] and as best I can tell it was his feeling out of the loop (following a week he was on leave, in an environment where a lot of new actors we don’t control are participating), coupled with a strong desire not to be yelled at by opposing counsel. Truly.”
On August 5, 2016, an unidentified official from the DOJ’s Office of the General Counsel, National Security Branch, emailed Strzok, Moffa, Page and others noting that “Today [redacted] brought over additional 302s from WFO. Are those supposed to go through the redaction process for production to DOJ on Monday?” Page replies, “To the best of my knowledge, yes, they will. When Pete identified for [redacted] the DOJ edits that needed to be made to the 302s [redacted] discovered there were four (I think) 302s that had never been written. What I don’t know is whose 302s they are, but unless Pete or Jon are able to respond in short order, I would throw them on the pile for redactions.” Strzok responds, “The new PRN 302s do not. All of the rest do need to be redacted.”
On August 4, 2016, Strzok forwards to Moffa, Page and unidentified OGC officials a link to a PBS interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Strzok writes: “A lot of interesting quotes in here. Is Trisha’s write-up done?” Page replies: “Yes. She wanted [redacted] to have one more look, but there’s no reason you couldn’t ask her for it.” Strzok responds: “Well, I want to serialize it to the file. Ideally before it breaks publicly. It it’s not ready, it’s not ready. And we sure as hell better try to get the AG brief done before this breaks.”
On July 26, 2016, Strzok emails Page under the subject “AG defensive brief”. Strzok writes: “Hey has the AG defensive brief been scheduled? Probably smart to do that soon in the event it leaks out via Wiki or others….” Loretta Lynch was attorney general at the time.
“These emails show that disgraced anti-Trump officials Strzok and Page were directly involved in the launching of the abusive spying on President Trump and his campaign,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And the emails reconfirm the urgent need for the Attorney General Barr to reopen the Clinton email investigation, which was compromised by unprecedented bias for Clinton by senior Obama FBI and DOJ officials.”