Judicial Watch Sues for McCabe/Strzok/Page FBI Text Messages
FBI Continues to Assert Text Messages are not Subject to FOIA
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for text messages between FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former FBI officials Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, Jennifer Leonard, and/or former Obama White House Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:20-cv-02995)).
Judicial Watch submitted its FOIA request on February 16, 2018, to the FBI. It sought text messages sent from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2015, between FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Lisa Page, Jennifer Leonard, Peter Strzok, and/or Lisa Monaco. In response, the FBI denied the request, asserting that text messages are not subject to FOIA.
Judicial Watch challenged the FBI’s determination. It filed an administrative appeal with the Department of Justice arguing that “text messages involving government-related business sent between government officials, whom all of the persons identified in the scope of the request are, do in fact constitute government records that fall within the purview of FOIA.” In response, the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy remanded Judicial Watch’s request for “further review” but the FBI ignored the directive and continues to withhold any text messages. Judicial Watch sued on October 19 after the FBI failed to respond to the remanded request.
In July, a federal court rejected the FBI’s request to dismiss a separate Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit filed on behalf of Jeffrey A. Danik, a retired FBI supervisory special agent, for emails and text messages of former-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. On October 15, the FBI turned over several pages of almost completely redacted McCabe text messages while denying the texts are subject to FOIA.
“The Wray FBI asserts, contrary to DOJ policy, it can delete and keep secret all of text messages – including those by the corrupt cadre responsible for the illicit spying on President Trump,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The court should quickly order the FBI to preserve and produce text messages as FOIA requires.”
Last month, Judicial Watch uncovered that senior members of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office (SCO) repeatedly and “accidentally” wiped over 20 phones assigned to them.
Judicial Watch previously uncovered Justice Department records concerning ethics issues related to McCabe’s involvement with his wife’s political campaign. The documents include an email showing Mrs. McCabe was recruited for a Virginia state senate race in February 2015 by then-Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam’s office.
The news that former Secretary of State Clinton used a private email server broke five days later, on March 2, 2015. Five days after that, former Clinton Foundation board member and Democrat party fundraiser, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, met with the McCabes. She announced her candidacy on March 12. Soon afterward, Clinton/McAuliffe-aligned political groups donated nearly $700,000 (40% of the campaign’s total funds) to McCabe’s wife for her campaign.
In July 2015, the FBI opened the investigation known as “Midyear Exam” into “the storage and transmission of classified information on Clinton’s unclassified private servers.”
Judicial Watch also discovered Justice Department records showing that McCabe secretly had recused himself from the investigation into Clinton’s non-government email server on November 1, 2016, one week prior to the presidential election.
While working as Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office, McCabe controlled resources supporting the Midyear Exam investigation into Clinton’s email scandal. An October 2016 internal FBI memorandum labeled “Overview of Deputy Director McCabe’s Recusal Related To Dr. McCabe’s Campaign for Political Office,” details talking points about McCabe’s various potential conflicts of interest, including the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s illicit server.
McCabe was fired from the FBI in March 2018 for leaking to the media and lacking “candor.”