Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Wednesday demanding the Justice Department remove redactions from a text message exchanged between FBI agent Peter Strzok and former bureau lawyer Lisa Page.
The senior Iowa lawmaker contends the redactions cover up excessive spending habits of FBI officials and appear to make reference to the Obama White House exerting control over an unspecified probe.
“On May 1, 2018, and May 18, 2018, Committee staff reviewed in camera less redacted versions of the Strzok and Page text message productions provided to the Committee. On several occasions, my staff have requested that the Department of Justice provide the Committee with a redaction key, to no avail. Thus, the Committee is still in the dark about the justification the Department is relying upon to withhold that information from Congress,” wrote Grassley.
“As one example of redacted material, in a text message produced to the Committee, the price of Andrew McCabe’s $70,000 conference table was redacted. In another, an official’s name was redacted in reference to a text about the Obama White House ‘running’ an investigation, although it is unclear to which investigation they were referring.”
Fox News published a less redacted version of the exchange in which Strzok, on August 5th, 2016, wrote, “Went well, best we could have expected. Other than [REDACTED] quote, ‘the White House is running this.’”
“My answer, ‘well, maybe for you they are.’”
“Yeah, whatever (re WH comment). We’ve got emails that say otherwise,” Page responded.
Grassley requested the Justice Department hand over unredacted copies of the text messages to the Senate Judiciary Committee by June 6th.
Strzok was removed from special counsel’s Russia probe over the summer after Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz discovered the agent’s texts showing a perceived political bias against Donald Trump.
After meeting with President Trump on Monday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein agreed to request the watchdog probe on how the FBI “conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”
“Based on the meeting with the President, the Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump Campaign,” a White House statement said.
“It was also agreed that White House Chief of Staff [John] Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested.”