The last few days the media has been buzzing with speculation about the precise meaning of a text message sent by the sacked FBI investigator Peter Strzok to his lover FBI lawyer Lisa Page on 15th August 2016.
I am puzzled by this speculation. I don’t think there is any mystery at all about this text. There is no doubt it refers to the Russiagate investigation and its meaning is perfectly clear.
Let’s look first at the text itself
I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40….
“Andy” is FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. “He” is Donald Trump. If that was not so someone by now would have said so.
The text shows Strzok and Page took part in a discussion in McCabe’s office in which Donald Trump and the election were discussed. Over the course of this discussion Page expressed the view – commonplace in August 2016 – that Donald Trump had no prospect of winning the election. She therefore counselled that the proposed Russiagate investigation was unnecessary. Strzok responded that the FBI had no choice but to proceed with the Russiagate investigation because of the risk of not doing so was too great.
The Russiagate investigation is obviously the “insurance” Strzok is talking about. Nothing else makes sense.
Does the text message tell us anything else? The short answer is it does, and it is important.
The proposal to launch the Russiagate investigation clearly ran into resistance from some members of the FBI. Clearly they were unhappy because they were worried that it would amount to improper interference in the election. Undoubtedly they were also worried that it might violate the Hatch Act, which forbids misuse of public office to engage in partisan political activity especially during an election
That there were discussions within the FBI about the Hatch Act over the course of the summer of 2016 we know because concern about a possible violation of the Hatch Act was the reason former FBI Director James Comey gave for his refusal to sign the US intelligence community’s 7th October 2016 statement which blamed Russia for meddling in the US election.
It was clearly in response to these concerns about the possible unlawfulness of the Russiagate investigation and its possible impropriety that Page who is a lawyer suggested that there was no need to launch the Russiagate investigation because Trump was certain to lose the election anyway.
The hardliners – and Strzok’s text message clearly identifies Strzok as one of the hardliners – however overrode those objections. They insisted the Russiagate investigation had to be launched. They did so because the mere possibility of Trump winning the election, however remote, was too great a risk for them to accept.
As to why this was so, the answer is that Strzok and the other members of the FBI who supported him had by this point clearly convinced themselves that the claims that Donald Trump was connected to the Russians were true.
The key piece in the jigsaw is again the Trump Dossier.
It is now known that Christopher Steele – the Trump Dossier’s compiler – was in contact with the FBI in early July 2016, before publication of the DNC emails by Wikileaks on 22nd July 2016.
The very first entry of the Trump Dossier dated 20th June 2016 and almost certainly seen by Strzok before Wikileaks published the DNC emails and therefore before the earliest possible date for the launch of the Russiagate investigation already claimed that the Russians had compromising material on Trump because of Trump’s supposed orgy with Russian prostitutes in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Moscow in 2013.
Later entries in the Trump Dossier dated 19th July 2016, 30th July 2016, 5th August 2016 and 10th August 2016, and one entry incorrectly dated 26th July 2015 but which can be clearly dated to July 2016, not only claimed that the Russians were meddling in the election on Donald Trump’s behalf – purportedly on the direct orders from President Putin himself – but also claimed that Trump’s campaign was actively colluding with the Russians in doing this. Some of these entries would almost certainly have been seen by Strzok before the Russiagate investigation was launched, and he had probably seen all of them before he texted Page on 15th August 2016.
It is now known that the FBI gave credence to the Trump Dossier in the summer of 2016 to the point where it used information obtained from the Trump Dossier to obtain FISA warrants, notably one authorising surveillance of Carter Page.
That fact alone is sufficient to explain why hardliners within the FBI like Strzok were insisting in the summer of 2016 that the Russiagate investigation had to be launched despite the doubts about its lawfulness and propriety expressed by some people within the FBI.
It was in order to arrive at a decision whether or not to launch the Russiagate investigation despite the doubts some were expressing about it that the meeting in McCabe’s office was called, with the decision being to proceed as Strzok wanted despite the doubts.
All this seems to me obvious from the wording of Strzok’s text, from its date, and from the surrounding circumstances.
There is one further possibility which is more speculative.
It is now know that sometime in August 2016 the CIA forwarded to President Obama a report alleging that the Russians were meddling in the US election. All the facts show that this report was based on the Trump Dossier.
Assuming that the FBI and the CIA were consulting each other and exchanging information about the Trump Dossier – as is highly likely – it is possible that the discussion in McCabe’s office was also about the report the CIA was proposing to send to Obama, with some people within the FBI concerned that the Trump Dossier’s unverified allegations were being used to compile a report for the President of the United States.
Regardless of this second possibility, the Strzok text is key evidence because it shows that the FBI pressed ahead with the Russiagate investigation despite the objections of some of its members.
Should there ever be an investigation by a second Special Counsel of the FBI’s conduct during the election, and should criminal charges ever be brought against its top officials for the things they did during the election, this may prove to be important.
It would show that they pressed ahead and did things disregarding warnings that what they were proposing to do was wrong.
Gowdy: Strzok Texts Show ‘A Level Of Bias You Rarely See’ (VIDEO)
Source TRUE PUNDIT and The Daily Caller
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy said Tuesday that FBI agent Peter Strzok’s anti-Trump text messages show an “unprecedented” level of bias “you rarely see” from FBI officials.
Gowdy, a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, discussed Strzok’s text messages during an interview on Fox News.
In particular, he was asked about a cryptic message that Strzok sent in Aug. 2016 to FBI lawyer Lisa Page referring to an “insurance policy” that appears to refer to the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” reads the Aug. 15, 2016 text message. (RELATED: ‘We Can’t Take That Risk’ — Strzok Texts Show Agents Discussing ‘Insurance Policy’ Against Trump)
Strzok was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation in July, just after the Justice Department’s inspector general discovered a trove of politically-charged texts between Strzok and Page.
“If they were coming up with a quote ‘insurance policy’ in case Donald Trump won, that is devastating,” Gowdy told Fox’s Bill Hemmer.
“What I hope is that insurance policy was not a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.”
“This was a level of bias that you rarely see, frankly,” Gowdy added of Strzok.
The Andy referenced in Strzok’s text message is believed to be Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s deputy director. McCabe will be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday afternoon.
Gowdy said that McCabe is of interest to the committee because he “cuts across every facet of every investigation in 2016…from Secretary Clinton’s email to the investigation into the Trump campaign.”
Republicans on the committee will likely press McCabe on the conversation referenced in Strzok’s text message as well as his involvement in the early stages of the collusion investigation.
As the FBI’s second-in-command, McCabe was likely directly involved in the investigation, which was opened in July 2016. And as the FBI’s No. 2 counterintelligence official, Strzok was picked to supervise that investigation. Several weeks earlier, Strzok was helping lead the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Strzok conducted the July 2, 2016 interview with Clinton.
Asked about Mueller’s investigation in light of the Strzok revelations, Gowdy offered limited praise.
“I am heartened by the fact that [Mueller] kicked Strzok off as soon as he learned. I just wish he’d have learned sooner,” Gowdy said.
“He’s in the middle of major investigations,” he said of Strzok, adding, “Thank God he’s gone, but I want to know how the hell he got there in the first place.”
In addition to the “insurance policy” text, Strzok disparaged Trump, calling him a “f***ing idiot” and wrote “F Trump.” He also offered some praise for Clinton, even while he was conducting the investigation into her emails.
In March 2016, Strzok told Page, his mistress, that he would likely vote for Clinton. He also predicted that she would defeat Trump in a landslide.
Top Republicans are turning their focus to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as they scrutinize a host of anti-Trump texts exchanged between two bureau officials, raising questions about one in particular that seemed to reference an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency.
That text was revealed on Tuesday night when the Justice Department released hundreds of messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were romantically involved and at one point worked on Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok texted on Aug. 15, 2016. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
Some lawmakers surmise “Andy” is a reference to Andrew McCabe, and now want to know about his communications with Page and Strzok.
“This [text] is the one that concerns me the most,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said on “Fox & Friends” Thursday, one day after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended the Mueller probe in testimony before Goodlatte’s committee.
“Andy is presumably Andrew McCabe … and this text is very troubling because it suggests that they’re doing something, they have a plan to take action to make sure that Donald Trump does not get elected president of the United States at the highest levels of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Strzok, who was a counterintelligence agent at the FBI, was removed from Mueller’s team after the discovery of the texts and re-assigned to the FBI’s human resources division. Page also was briefly on Mueller’s team, but returned to the FBI over the summer.
When asked about the “insurance policy” text message and whether it referred to McCabe, a Justice Department spokesperson told Fox News they could not comment on the nature of the messages — but that Strzok has been cleared to be interviewed by Congress.
The FBI also told Fox News they had no comment on whether that text message referred to McCabe or someone else.
Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also raised concerns about that message, penning a letter Thursday to Rosenstein — who oversees the special counsel probe since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself earlier this year.
“Some of these texts appear to go beyond merely expressing a private political opinion, and appear to cross the line into taking some official action to create an ‘insurance policy’ against a Trump presidency,” Grassley wrote Thursday. “Presumably, ‘Andy’ refers to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. So whatever was being discussed extended beyond just Page and Strzok at least to Mr. McCabe, who was involved in supervising both investigations.”
Grassley requested the Justice Department turn over records by Dec. 27 relating to “the conversation” that allegedly occurred with Strzok and Page in McCabe’s office, and all records relating to McCabe’s communications with Strzok and Page between Aug. 7 and Aug. 23, 2016.
“Any improper political influence or motives in the course of any FBI investigation must be brought to light and fully addressed,” Grassley wrote. “Former Director [James] Comey’s claims that the FBI ‘doesn’t give a rip about politics’ certainly are not consistent with the evidence of discussions occurring in the Deputy Director’s office around August 15, 2016.”
That text was just one of 10,000 messages the Justice Department was reviewing between Strzok and Page — and hundreds turned over to Congress that contained anti-Trump and other politically charged comments.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said that the “politically-oriented” messages between the two were found in his office’s initial search, which led to the watchdog requesting all their messages through the end of last November. The messages were produced by the FBI on July 20 of this year. Muller and Rosenstein were informed about them a week later, on July 27.
Some of the other anti-Trump text messages called then-candidate Trump a “menace” and a “loathsome human.”
Lawmakers peppered Rosenstein with questions on Capitol Hill Wednesday over the appearance of an “insider bias” on Mueller’s team, zeroing in on the text messages between Strzok and Page.
But Rosenstein stood by Mueller, whom he appointed, and stressed that he has discussed the appearance of “bias” with Mueller.
“It’s our responsibility to make sure those opinions do not influence their actions,” Rosenstein said. “I believe Director Mueller understands that, and recognizes people have political views but that they don’t let it [affect their work].”
Rosenstein underscored that he had oversight over the special counsel probe.
“I know what he’s doing,” Rosenstein said of Mueller’s investigative actions, noting that he would take action should the special counsel do something “inappropriate.” “He consults with me about their investigation, within and without the scope.”
Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.
WaPo’s Deep State Damage Control
“Looks Bad but (somehow isn’t) a Smoking Gun”
Update: Shortly after this post went up, the Wall Street Journal reportedthat Strzok’s text was intended to address Page’s belief that the Russia investigation could take its time because Trump wouldn’t be elected president. The report cites anonymous “people familiar with his account.” The reporter who broke the story, Del Quentin Wilber, explained on Twitter why this explanation is plausible.
Fox News is suggesting Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation may constitute a “coup” against President Trump. Republicans in Congress are increasingly warning about anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department. The effort to delegitimize the Russia investigation has found its alleged smoking gun: Demoted FBI agent Peter Strzok’s “insurance policy” text message to a fellow agent with whom he was having an affair.
Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire called it a “possible plot to take down Trump before [the] election.” The National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy wrote in The Post that it “crosses the line between political banter and tainted law enforcement.” Conservatives like former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Townhall’s Guy Benson are accusing the mainstream media of ignoring it — apparently because Mueller’s investigation shan’t be criticized.
It’s 100 percent true Mueller and his probe aren’t above reproach and shouldn’t be exempted from real scrutiny. The Strzok disclosures — which, by the way, the New York Times and The Washington Post first reported two weekends ago — clearly represent an embarrassing episode. That Strzok was sharing anti-Trump text messages with FBI lawyer Lisa Page has lent credence to the argument that the probe is stocked with people who are out to get the president. (Strzok was removed from the Mueller probe for the texts.)
I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.
This text is from August 2016, and “Andy” may refer to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. The argument among some on the right is that “insurance policy” refers to some kind of deep-state conspiracy to take down Trump, and that it possibly even implicates McCabe, the No. 2 official at the FBI whose wife, Jill, happened to be a Democratic candidate for the Virginia state Senate last year.
But there are a few holes in the argument. The first is that “insurance policy” part doesn’t refer to anything specifically except the concept of getting life insurance before you turn 40 years old. It is hugely unlikely you would die before the age of 40, Strzok seemed to be saying, but you get insurance anyway because even that slim possibility would be catastrophic for your family. This has been reported all over conservative media as Strzok saying they needed some kind of insurance policy against Trump winning — i.e. the Russia investigation or perhaps even taking it easy on Hillary Clinton in her email investigation — but it’s not nearly so directly stated. It seems like Strzok was using the metaphor as a commentary on how fear of a Trump presidency was rational even if it seemed to be a remote possibility at the time.
The second hole is life insurance isn’t something that prevents anything. If you are looking to prevent yourself from dying — or prevent Trump from being elected president — taking out insurance is not really going to change that outcome; it is just going to soften the blow once it happens.
And, the third hole is that, if they were indeed talking about a conspiracy to take down Trump, it seems unlikely this would have been the only text message about it. We have hundreds of text messages, and Strzok and Page clearly did not plan for any of this to become public. So if they were scheming, wouldn’t their effort to prevent Trump’s presidency or dethrone him if he won come through in some of the other texts about just how much they hated Trump — rather than just one ambiguously worded text? The two of them did not seem to be discussing such tactics, beyond general venting about Trump.
These texts clearly reveal a level of bias that would be a major red flag in any investigation. That’s why Strzok was removed from Mueller’s Russia probe and why these texts are really problematic. Believing the “insurance policy” text constitutes some kind of smoking gun is to make some real logical leaps.
As with all conspiracy theories, it is difficult to completely disprove it, so plenty will read what they want into it. Trump’s critics have often been too eager for their own Russia smoking gun, as I have written, and it seems it is now happening on the other side as well. These things are always worth a healthy dose of skepticism.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) has written a letter saying we need an explanation of this text message, so perhaps we will know more in the relatively near future.