- Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
- An error that prevented the FBI from saving five months worth of text messages exchanged between FBI agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page reportedly affected many other phones at the bureau between June 2016 and May 2017.
- Republican lawmakers have focused on the Strzok-Page text messages in recent weeks because the two were found to be sharing anti-Trump sentiments during the 2016 US election.
- President Donald Trump and his allies sounded alarms over the missing Strzok-Page texts, which they characterized as evidence of political bias among top law-enforcement officials.
News that the FBI failed to preserve five months worth of text messages exchanged between FBI agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page ignited fierce rebukes this week from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said he would “leave no stone unturned” to figure out why the texts were not saved.
But according to a US Justice Department official cited by BuzzFeed News on Wednesday, “thousands” of phones at the FBI were affected by the apparent error that prevented messages from being preserved.
The official reportedly said the error occurred between June 2016 and May 2017, which would include the missing Strzok-Page text messages that were sent between December 2016 and May 2017.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a voicemail and email sent by Business Insider on Wednesday night.
The missing Strzok-Page text messages caused alarm among some Republican lawmakers who have sought to bolster claims of anti-Trump bias at the FBI, the Justice Department, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the US election. Those assertions stem from revelations that Strzok and Page expressed to each other their strong opposition to Trump during the 2016 election.
“Where are the 50,000 important text messages between FBI lovers Lisa Page and Peter Strzok,” Trump asked his Twitter followers on Tuesday night.
Trump loyalists quickly weaponized the development, calling for a second special counsel in the Russia probe.