The Wall Street Journal reports that Peter Strzok’s text about an “insurance policy” was intended to push for an aggressive investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia. First of all, here’s the August 2016 text message Strzok sent to fellow FBI agent Lisa Page: “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.” Here’s the Journal’s take based on anonymous sources:
The text came after a meeting involving Ms. Page, Mr. Strzok and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, according to people close to the pair and familiar with their version of events. At the meeting, Ms. Page suggested they could take their time investigating the alleged collusion because Mrs. Clinton was likely to win, the people said.
If they move more deliberately, she argued, they could reduce the risk of burning sensitive sources.
Mr. Strzok felt otherwise, according to these people.
His text was meant to convey his belief that the investigation couldn’t afford to take a more measured approach because Mr. Trump could very well win the election, they said. It would be better to be aggressive and gather evidence quickly, he believed, because some of Mr. Trump’s associates could land administration jobs and it was important to know if they had colluded with Russia.
The Journal cites another text Strzok sent shortly before his “insurance policy” text. It read, “OMG I CANNOT BELIEVE WE ARE SERIOUSLY LOOKING AT THESE ALLEGATIONS AND THE PERVASIVE CONNECTIONS.” This is supposed to help Strzok’s case because it shows he was excited about the investigation, but this can also be read as a partisan (which we know he was) excited over his opportunity to torpedo the opposition. More on that in a moment.
Also today (just 3 minutes before the Journal story went up) the Washington Post published a piece arguing Strzok’s text was being taken out of context. The Post doesn’t seem to have any anonymous sources but the conclusion is similar:
That “insurance policy” part doesn’t refer to anything specifically except the concept of getting life insurance before you turn 40 years old. It’s 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 that 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 that 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 isn’t really going to change that outcome; it’s just going to soften the blow once it happens.
It’s a fair point. Life insurance isn’t something you take out to prevent your death, it’s something you take out to care for your family after your death. That’s the point of insurance, to protect you in case of an unexpected catastrophe, in this case, that meant Trump’s election.
So here’s the obvious question: Who was going to receive the payout if Trump won? Put another way, who is the “we” Strzok refers to when he says “we can’t take that risk”?
Here’s one possible answer that neither the Post nor the Journal seem very interested in exploring: Both Strzok and Page were anti-Trump partisans. Given that Andrew McCabe’s wife was running for office as a Democrat it’s possible McCabe is also a partisan Democrat.
So, assume the WSJ story is correct. Page said don’t worry about Trump winning the election because Hillary is crushing him. Strzok replied, in effect, we need an insurance policy in case he wins. That insurance was the collusion investigation. Strzok wanted to jump on it quickly, on the off chance they would need it later. How do we know his interest here was professional, not partisan. Isn’t it possible Strzok was recommending official action based on his personal, partisan desire to have something ready to nail Trump, should he win?
As it happened, Trump did win the election and we’ve now spent more than a year discussing Russian collusion. Not coincidentally, this topic thrills Democrats who are convinced Trump is on the verge of being impeached with the next breaking story. It’s almost as if the partisans on the left are still looking for the payoff from the insurance policy Strzok was advocating the FBI take out last year.