Judicial Watch: New Strzok-Page Emails Show FBI Investigated President Trump’s Tweets Critical of Obama and FBI
(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today that it received 323 pages of emails between former FBI official Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page. The records include an email from Strzok to other FBI officials about Trump’s tweets regarding them spying on him, as well as their interaction with other media outlets including CNN.
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 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 emails will not be completed until late 2021 at the earliest.
On March 18, 2017, Strzok emails his boss, then-Asst. Director for the Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap, along with colleagues Jon Moffa and Page, about his research into President Trump’s tweets about being wiretapped:
Sending the tweets in question along with posting times. Doing some research, time stamping in Twitter can be glitchy … [T]he tweet times below were all -3 hours from east coast time, which I adjusted (ie, the first listed as 3:35am). I think I recall reporting at the time described the tweets as occurring around 630, not 330.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! – Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017 6:35 AM
Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW! – Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017 6:52 AM
I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election! – Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017 6:52 AM
How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy! – Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017 7:02 AM
On March 29, 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey’s chief of staff, Jim Rybicki, emails then-Executive Assistant Director, National Security Branch Carl Ghattas, former Assistant Director for the Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap, then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Strzok, Page and then-FBI General Counsel James Baker about a “Sensitive Matter Briefing:”
Rybicki writes, “The Director would like a briefing tomorrow (Thursday) on the sensitive application. [Emphasis added] I just spoke to Pete and gave him the scope. Will probably be at 5pm after the unmasking briefing.”
McCabe replies to Strzok and Ghattas, saying, “Any idea what’s driving this?”
Strzok replies, “Jim R said OAG told him the AG wanted a brief in advance of signing and would want a little bit of time to think about it.”
The second renewal application and order of the original FISA warrant on Carter Page was filed one week later, on April 7, 2017. Both the April 7 and June 29, 2017, applications were withdrawn due to fraud.
“These astonishing emails, which have been hidden for years, show the Comey FBI was investigating President Trump over his critical tweets of the agency and Obama’s spying abuse and misconduct,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These emails also show that Comey was intimately involved with illegal and dishonest FISA spy op against President Trump. Where is Durham?”
On March 20, 2017, Strzok emails Page, Moffa and a redacted General Counsel official a “Secret” amendment submitted to the FISA court by DOJ on September 29, 2006, which changed the FBI’s “Standard Minimization Procedures for Electronic Surveillance and Physical Search.” Strzok notes that the document “contains the changes to who/how indexing is done.” The amendment, which was co-authored in 2006 by then-Counsel for Intelligence Policy James Baker was meant to comply with the FISA court’s order of December 2005 “to broaden the category of FBI personnel who can enter U.S. person information into ‘general FBI indices’ from the current limitation that only the ‘supervising case agent’ may authorize such indexing and that the Attorney General would also authorize the indexing of U.S. person information that is necessary to understand foreign intelligence information or assess its importance.”
On March 22, 2017, Strzok emails Moffa and a redacted official saying that, in response to a question from “Wolf” [presumably Wolf Blitzer of CNN] about what you do if you’re in the FBI, former CIA officer and frequent CNN guest Phil Mudd responded: “first thing I tell my counterintelligence guys is, slow down, make sure you do everything right. When this eventually becomes public, it will be more picked over than even the Clinton investigation was.” Strzok then tells Moffa: “He’s right. And that worries me.”
On March 24, 2017, reporter Matt Zapotosky of The Washington Post emails two unidentified FBI officials, noting that, in his review of government records relating to Hillary Clinton, he discovered a page in which “a box is checked to indicate the material is ‘Grand Jury Material.’ Is that right? I don’t think anyone had ever been aware of a sitting grand jury in the Clinton case.”
The Zapotosky email then gets forwarded to other FBI officials, including Page, and a lengthy, redacted email exchange follows. Eventually, Page adds Strzok to the exchange, saying, “Adding Pete, just to double check my work.” Strzok’s response is also redacted. One of the redacted officials replies to Strzok, saying, “AD Kortan asked if this could just be about legal process to get access.” Strzok responds, “It might be [redacted].”
On March 6, 2017, Page forwards to Strzok a Washington Examiner article sent to her from the General Counsel’s Office discussing how the GAO determined many sensitive US government offices and officials were being housed in property owned by companies connected to foreign governments like China, posing a security threat.
Page asked Strzok, “Did you hear about this?”
Strzok replies, “I hadn’t, thank you.”
Strzok forwarded the article to Dina Corsi, of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, “FYI.” A redacted official in the Counterintelligence Division responds, “Thank you for highlighting this to us!” Strzok forwards that response to Page, and says, “Our property ci. folks hadn’t heard either.”
On March 23, 2017, New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt emails FBI Asst. Dir. Michael Kortan saying:
Mike: Wanted to flag you on something. Three of my colleagues are working on a story about the Russia investigation. They’re told that Jared Kusher [sic] is among the individuals who the F.B.I. is scrutinizing for their meetings with Russians. My colleagues were told that Ambassador Kislyak, after meeting with Kushner and General Flynn in early December at Trump Tower, set up a meeting with Kushner and a Russian banker. Kushner ultimately met with the Russian banker. The banker worked for Alpha Bank. Thanks, Mike.
Schmidt’s email is forwarded by Kortan to Lisa Page. Page forwards it to Strzok and Moffa, saying “Just wanted you both to have this.”
On April 3, 2017, a redacted official in the FBI Washington Field Office emails Strzok a link to a Guardian article titled “Michael Flynn: New Evidence Spy Chiefs Had Concerns about Russia Ties,” saying, “Im [sic] sure you are tracking, but this has gotten too deep.” Strzok replies, “I wasn’t. WTF is this…” Strzok then forwards the exchange to Page, saying “Not great.”
On April 4, 2017, former FBI Asst. Dir. John Giacalone emails Priestap and Strzok to advise them that the New York Times’ reporters Adam Goldman and Mike Appuzzo were doing a story on the Hillary server investigation. Giacalone stated, “[R]eceived referral obligated to open a case; knew at some point both political parties would have issues during and at conclusion of investigation; and case agents did outstanding investigative work leaving no stone un-turned.”
On March 19, 2017, Strzok forwards a Washington Post article to Jon Moffa and other redacted persons discussing disclosures that FBI official Bill Evanina made in a public speech about private contractors stealing national security information. Strzok says, “Any idea what he’s talking about?” A redacted Unit Chief of CD-40 replies, “No idea. I queried the other UCs [Unit Chiefs] and they didn’t know either.” Moffa responds, “Who is Evanina’s boss at the bureau? It really seems like a weird dynamic where there is no requirement for him to coordinate with the AD of CD [Asst. Director of the Counterintelligence Division].” Strzok forwards Moffa’s response to Lisa Page, saying, “A fine question…”
On February 10, 2017, a Senate staffer sent a letter to the FBI which a FBI congressional liaison official forwards on to others in the FBI, indicating that Sen. Claire McCaskill was “seeking a closed briefing on any investigation the FBI is conducting on General Flynn and his communications with the Russian government.” The redacted FBI forwarder adds, “Obviously we would never provide a briefing on any pending investigation, let alone acknowledge one, so this is just for awareness on your end.” The email exchange is then forwarded on to Strzok, Jennifer Boone, and other FBI officials. Strzok forwards it to Page “FYSA.”
On February 14, 2017, Strzok forwards Priestap a New York Times article titled “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts with Russian Intelligence.” In his cover note, Strzok states, “This is the article Mike K [presumably Kortan] gave a heads up on earlier. Contains flat out inaccuracies. I will sit down with [redacted] early and draft some comments in advance of D meeting with Burr.”
Priestap replies, “Thank you and, yes, please get info to [redacted] Lisa and Rybicki (and cc me), as soon as you have finished.” Strzok then forwards the exchange to Page, Rybicki, Jon Moffa and an unidentified person, saying, “See thread below. There are several significant errors/inaccuracies in the NYT article this evening. We’ll get you a red-lined copy with comments first thing tomorrow in advance of D meeting with Burr.”
On February 15, 2017, Michael Kortan emails Strzok about the same piece, saying, “Pete, Can you send me you [sic] latest analysis on the NYT story from last night?” Strzok replies, “Just sent on red side.”
In a February 15, 2017, email to Page, Strzok mocks a New York Times correction that, “at least three, not at least four” people were examined by the FBI. Strzok says, “Ha! ‘Three’!”
On March 20, 2017, Strzok forwards to Page and an unidentified official a Washington Post article titled “President Trump’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Twitter Day” and Strzok says, “This does a good job of parsing through the various tweets.”
On March 2, 2017, a redacted official in Comey’s office emails Strzok and Page, saying,“I believe Mike already discussed with Lisa the need to bring the NYTs back in today for a short meeting…. Can we squeeze something in perhaps at 4p?” Strzok replies, “Works for me.”
On March 2, 2017, Strzok forwards to Page, Moffa and Priestap a Politico article titled “Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak is Washington’s Most Dangerous Diplomat.” Strzok states, “Politico has the Mayflower speech, but ‘it is not clear whether either Sessions or Trump spoke at any length to Kislyak at Trump’s foreign speech in April’, citing the article. Strzok adds, “Also interesting if true, the only opportunity to meet would be at the reception in advance of the speech.”
On March 6, 2017, Strzok emails Page “Can you call my desk [redacted]?” Pages replies, “Do we really need to talk tonight?” Strzok responds, “No, but this re-write needs to go out tonight. So any thoughts welcome [redacted]. And I hope Andy is good with the re-scoping.”
On March 6, 2017, Strzok sends an email with the subject “AG letter to Judiciary,” along with an attachment called “Sessions, 03-06-17, letter, testimony.pdf.” Strzok pastes a paragraph of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions testimony into the cover email, in which Sessions describes the occasion and content of the time he met with Russian Amb. Sergey Kislyak.
On March 10, 2019, Page emails Strzok saying, “NPR had a very informative story on the Emoluments Clause this morning. You should totally listen.” Strzok replied, “I will. You spell that all by yourself? I’d have ended up with immollomints. <smiley emoji>”
On March 13, 2017, then-Dep. Asst. Attorney General George Toscas emails Strzok, copying Dep. Asst AG David Laufman, stating,“As mentioned last week, the Acting DAG [Dana Boente] has requested a weekly update on the sensitive matter.”
On March 23, 2017, Lisa Page sends an email to Moffa, Strzok and several other FBI unidentified officials with the subject line “Meeting with the DI” [probably Directorate of Intelligence] and says, “Hi friends [redacted]. Thanks guys. Lisa” Someone in the General Counsel’s office responds, “Not a problem. I’ll begin to lay the groundwork.” Moffa then replies, “It sounds like you have pretty routine interaction up there, but if I can help at all in reaching out to them, just say the word and I’ll do it… J”
On March 29, 2017, Strzok emails Page, “It makes me angry” that Sen. Chuck Grassley had published a letter to Director Comey calling for answers from the FBI as to how Deputy Director Andrew McCabe could have overseen the FBI investigation into Trump-Russian “collusion.” Grassley pointed out that McCabe’s wife had accepted $700,000 from associates of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, during his wife’s run for the Virginia state senate.
On March 30, 2017, a redacted official emails Moffa and Strzok, advising them to read Gizmodo about the “D’s [Director’s] private Twitter acct.” Moffa replies, “I did not already know but I just read the whole thing. I have to say I didn’t expect that …” The unidentified official replies, “[I]f true, my respect for the D only solidifies when I see that he named himself after America’s preeminent 20th century political theologian.” (Gizmodo revealed that day that Comey used the Twitter handle “Reinhold Niebuhr,” who was a prominent American Marxist and Protestant theologian.)
On March 31, 2017, the Democratic Staff Director on House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence sends an email to the FBI congressional liaison office saying “RM [Adam] Schiff will be viewing the documents at the White House this afternoon and he requests your agencies in-person assistance in verifying the authenticity of the documents and your technical assistance in reviewing them.”
In July 2020, Judicial Watch uncovered emails showing Strzok, Page and other top bureau officials in the days prior to and following President Donald Trump’s inauguration discussing a White House counterintelligence briefing that could “play into” the FBI’s “investigative strategy.”
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 a non-state.gov email account “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 confidential] portion marks in front of paragraphs.”
In a related case, in May 2020, Judicial Watch received the “electronic communication” (EC) that officially launched the counterintelligence investigation, termed “Crossfire Hurricane,” of President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The document was written by former FBI official Peter Strzok.