Communications uncovered by congressional investigators reveal the FBI may have improperly coordinated with Department of Justice officials in an effort to pressure those officials to expedite a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance warrant on a former volunteer with the President Trump’s campaign, congressional officials said.
Text messages obtained by investigators reveal that FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and his colleague Lisa Page were discussing the FBI’s difficulty in obtaining the warrant to spy on Carter Page, who worked for a short stint with the Trump campaign. The FBI obtained its first warrant to spy on Page on Oct. 19, 2016, and there would be three subsequent renewals every 90 days for the warrant on Mr. Page.
The communications, which were first released last week and obtained by congressional investigators, occurred roughly one month before the Page warrant was obtained. The communications suggested that there was possible coordination by Obama White House officials, the CIA and the FBI into the investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign, as reported earlier.
In one of the September 2016 text message chains, Strzok tells Lisa Page about an argument that occurred with former DOJ prosecutor David Laufman. Laufman, who was then chief of the DOJ’s National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, oversaw the probe into former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, as well as the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. Laufman left the DOJ earlier this year citing personal reasons for leaving his post, according to news reports.
In the text message, Strzok complains that Laufman told him the hold-up for the application “EDVA is/was the delay.” The EDVA refers to the Eastern District of Virginia—a court that has previously issued subpeonas in the Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigation. This exchange raises concerns about FBI agents potentially pressuring prosecutors and the courts to speed up the production of information related to issuing FISA warrants, congressional staffers added. Congressional investigators originally stated that the EDVA had possibly been involved in the issuing of a FISA warrant.
“Everything here—from the texts complaining about FISA delays to the exchanges indicating coordination, to the White House visitor logs—seems to match to a disturbing degree. At best, it’s a strange coincidence worth investigating further—but it’s likely much more,” a congressional investigator told this reporter. “Congress has to take this information seriously if we hope to restore Americans’ trust in our federal justice system.”
In March 2016 there was already tension brewing between the FBI and Laufman.
DOJ Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that McCabe had “made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor—including under oath—on multiple occasions.”
McCabe contended in a statement shortly after his firing that he was fired as part of the administration’s “ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation.”
Clarification: This story has been updated with additional information from Congressional investigators on the Eastern District of Virginia court.
They had originally stated that a FISA warrant was issued in the Eastern District of Virginia.