Judicial Watch: Emails Suggest Obama FBI Knew McCain Leaked Trump Dossier
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 138 pages of emails between former FBI official Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page. The records include an email dated January 10, 2017, in which Strzok said that the version of the dossier published by BuzzFeed was “identical” to the version given to the FBI by McCain and had “differences” from the dossier provided to the FBI by Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson and Mother Jones reporter David Corn. January 10, 2017, is the same day BuzzFeed published the anti-Trump dossier by former British spy Christopher Steele, The emails also show Strzok and other FBI agents mocking President Trump a few weeks before he was inaugurated. In addition, the emails reveal that Strzok communicated with then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe about the “leak investigation” tied to the Clinton Foundation (the very leak in which McCabe was later implicated).
The records were produced to Judicial Watch in a January 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the DOJ failed to respond to a December 2017 request for all communications between Strzok and Page (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00154)).
The FBI has only processed 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 would not be completed until at least late 2021. The FBI is now using the coronavirus as an excuse to shut down the production of any further records.
On January 10, 2017, Strzok, under the subject “RE: Buzzfeed published some of the reports,” writes: “Our internet system is blocking the site. I have the pdf via iPhone, but it’s 25.6MB. Comparing now. The set is only identical to what [Sen. John] McCain had (it has differences from what was given to us by Corn and Simpson).”
Strzok sent the email to Page and several top-ranking FBI officials, including Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Assistant Director for the Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap, Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Jon Moffa, Assistant Director for Public Affairs Michael Kortan, General Counsel James Baker, and Director James Comey’s Chief of Staff James Rybicki.
Earlier, on January 10, 2017, BuzzFeed published a version of the dossier that Strzok said was “identical” to what McCain’s office had turned over to the FBI. Strzok sent theBuzzFeed-related email at 7:48 PM. At 8:23 PM on the same day, Strzok forwards to Page and several FBI officials an article by the UK outlet The Guardian titled “FBI chief given dossier by John McCain alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts.”
David Corn was one of Steele’s media contacts. Fusion GPS paid Steele, via funds from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, to write the dossier. In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017, Simpson said he was not aware of any version of the Steele dossier being given to the FBI.
While acknowledging he had given the dossier to the FBI, McCain had denied being the source of the BuzzFeed dossier report. But court filings which were unsealed in March 2019 show the Arizona Republican senator and an associate had shared the dossier with several media outlets.
Former State Department official and McCain associate David Kramer said in a December 13, 2017, deposition that the dossier was given to him by Steele and he then provided it to journalists at outlets including CNN, BuzzFeed and The Washington Post. The details were first reported by The Daily Caller.
The new production of records also includes a December 22, 2016, email in which Strzok asks then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe if the FBI had opened a “leak investigation” into Clinton Foundation media reports. Strzok writes: “I received word via Jen that tomorrow morning Mike S [presumably Executive Assistant Director Michael Steinbach] wants to talk about whether we have opened a leak investigation into the publicity surrounding the C Foundation. He said he’d like to discuss, as the D [Director James Comey] ‘would like to do something.’ I need guidance as to how/if you’d like me to detail the media pull we conducted. As you may recall, we have not detailed that activity other than to you and Bill.” McCabe’s reply to Strzok is redacted.
McCabe was fired from the FBI in March 2018 for leaking to the media and lacking “candor.” A February 2018 DOJ inspector general report concluded “that McCabe’s disclosure of the existence of an ongoing investigation … violated the FBI’s and the Department’s media policy and constituted misconduct.” McCabe was referred for prosecution but the Justice Department declined.
The documents also include several emails in which Strzok forwards Russiagate-related news articles to Page and other FBI officials. On January 1, 2017, Strzok forwarded to Moffa and another unidentified official a New York Times article titled “Trump Promises Revelation on Hacking”. The article discusses President-elect Donald Trump’s skepticism about U.S. intelligence assessments of Russian hacking relating to the 2016 election. Strzok cut-and-pasted a quote from the article in which Trump said, “I don’t care what they say, no computer is safe. I have a boy who’s 10 years old; he can do anything with a computer. You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier.” The article mentions that Trump said new information would be coming out the following Tuesday. Strzok then says in his cover note, “I think the Tuesday surprise is all the stuff [redacted] told him during the CI [counterintelligence] briefing. He DID mention the stuff about his son and the computer password …” A redacted FBI agent replies to Strzok, but the reply is also redacted. Another FBI agent then responds, “To be accurate he called it a code word not a password. Ha!” Strzok replies, “Funnies.”
On December 15, 2016, Strzok forwards to Page an article from the Daily Mail which states that a former British diplomat, Craig Murray, claimed to have received emails that were stolen from the DNC and John Podesta. Murray said he received the emails near the grounds of American University in Washington, DC. The article says the emails were from an inside DNC source, not Russians. Strzok writes in his cover note to Page, “Shaddy sh*t at AU…;)”.
On December 21, 2016, Strzok forwards to Page a link to a Defense One article about Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. Strzok cut-and-pasted a quote from former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell in which Morell says, “To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11.”
On December 26, 2016, Strzok forwards to Moffa and an unidentified Washington Field Office agent a Bloomberg article titled “Trump Aide Partnered with Firm Run by Man with Alleged KGB Ties.” The article reports that Trump adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, having partnered in 2016 with Subu Kota, a man who pleaded guilty in 1996 to selling stolen biotech material to an FBI agent posing as a Russian spy. Strzok forwarded the article to Page, saying, “See, look, I’m sharing… ;)”
On January 4, 2017, Strzok forwards to Page a 14-page white paper by the Congressional Research Center entitled “Conducting Foreign Relations Without Authority: The Logan Act.” He had previously sent the same file to Office of General Counsel attorney Trisha Anderson and to Priestap.
In a January 4, 2017, email thread a redacted official in the FBI’s Operational Technology Division emails Strzok and Page: “The AD [Assistant Director] of Cyber is apparently bringing up the idea of [redacted]. [Redacted] just messaged me after being pinged by SF [likely the FBI’s San Francisco office]. He asked why this was coming up again, and he wants to talk to me about it next week. Any recommendation on how to deal with this?” Pages replies, “Why don’t you let Pete or Bill or I reach out to the AD of Cyber to let him know how we got here [redacted]. It might then be worth [redacted].” The official responds, “Perfect. That works for me and you can mention that OTD brought it to you. My initial recommendation was for the AD to reach out to you two, but I can only assume that message did not reach him.”
On January 9, 2017, in an email with the subject line “USIC report,” [U.S. Intelligence Community] Strzok tells Page and a redacted official “Per D’s request on Friday, NYO received a single copy of the influence report from ODNI’s [redacted]; it is being maintained in the CD SAC’s safe for PEOTUS [president-elect of the United States]/senior staff.”
On January 10, 2017, Strzok emails Page, Moffa, Priestap and Jennifer Boone to say, “Per Rich [presumably Richard Quinn, formerly with the public affairs office], CNN to publish C material today between 4 and 5. Page replies: “We have lots of details from kortan [Asst Dir Michael Kortan of public affairs]. He will brief at the 3:45.” Strzok responds: “Can I maybe get a read out vis a vis relationship with Brits etc?”
“These new emails show that Strzok and his Obama FBI colleagues knew almost immediately that McCain likely leaked the infamous dossier,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The emails also show that senior FBI officials had contempt for President Trump and gossiped about its counterintelligence briefing to him. The FBI under Comey and McCabe was a train wreck and, given the ongoing cover-up of these docs, the agency hasn’t improved much.”
In February 2020, Judicial Watch uncovered an August 2016 email in which Strzok says that Clinton, in her interview with the FBI about her email controversy, apologized for “the work and effort” it caused the bureau and she said she chose to use it “out of convenience” and that “it proved to be anything but.” Strzok said Clinton’s apology and the “convenience” discussion were “not in” the FBI 302 report that summarized the interview.
Also in February, Judicial Watch made public Strzok-Page emails showing 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 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 DOJ was granting Clinton’s lawyers; and Page revealing that the DOJ was making edits to FBI 302 reports related to the Clinton Midyear Exam investigation. The emails detail a discussion about “squashing” an issue related to the Seth Rich controversy.
In January 2020, Judicial Watch uncovered Strzok-Page emails that detail special accommodations given to the lawyers of Clinton and her aides during the FBI investigation of the Clinton email controversy.
In November 2019, Judicial Watch revealed Strzok-Page emails that show the attorney representing three of Clinton’s aides were given meetings with senior FBI officials.
Also in November, Judicial Watch uncovered emails revealing that after Clinton’s statement denying the transmission of classified information over her unsecure email system, Strzok sent an email to FBI officials citing “three [Clinton email] chains” containing (C) [classified] portion marks in front of paragraphs.”