Some Friday night personnel changes at the FBI are raising questions but not much in the way of immediate answers. Two Comey advisers both turned in their notice and are leaving their old positions. One of them is Lisa Page, she of the notorious love affair and anti-Trump text messages. The other is suspected media leaker James Baker. The agency is saying that the two resignations are “unrelated” but the optics are more than a little curious. (NY Times)
Two top F.B.I. aides who worked alongside the former director James B. Comey as he navigated one of the most politically tumultuous periods in the bureau’s history resigned on Friday.
One of them, James A. Baker, was one of Mr. Comey’s closest confidants. He served as the F.B.I.’s top lawyer until December when he was reassigned as the new director, Christopher A. Wray, began installing his own advisers. Mr. Baker had been investigated by the Justice Department on suspicion of sharing classified information with reporters. He has not been charged.
The other aide, Lisa Page, advised Mr. Comey while serving directly under his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe. She was assailed by conservatives after texts that she had exchanged with the agent overseeing the investigation into links between President Trump’s campaign and Russia were made public. In the messages, they expressed anti-Trump views but took aim at Hillary Clinton and other political figures as well.
The Gray Lady’s description of Page is certainly generous, making it sounds as if she was an equal opportunity hater, but even a casual reading of the released text messages between Page and her boyfriend reveals that she was virulently anti-Trump from day one.
Baker is leaving for a position with the Brookings Institution, where he will be writing for their Lawfare blog. No word on where Page is heading, assuming she’s already landed another position. But on the same day the resignations were announced she had at least one bit of good news coming her way. Any text messages sent between Page and Peter Strzok on their personal devices will not be subjected to FBI Scrutiny. (Washington Examiner)
The FBI will not attempt to obtain messages exchanged on the personal devices of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the FBI officials who came under fire after it was revealed they exchanged text messages critical of President Trump, despite requests to do so from a top Republican senator.
Charles Thorley, the acting assistant director of the FBI’s office of congressional affairs, wrote in a letter this week to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that FBI employees are “required to adhere to record keeping policies in place where communications constitute records under the Federal Records Act.”
He added in the letter that “the FBI is not otherwise obligated to collect and/or retain all communications between its employees.”
This is the stuff that Chuck Grassley has been chasing as part of the Senate’s efforts to get a more complete picture of how the Clinton email investigation was handled. He’s already sent a letter to Christopher Wray asking for any pertinent emails, texts or other communications between Page and Strzok. At this point it sounds like the Bureau is just going to refuse those requests.
So is it just a coincidence that the records request was coming to a head just as Page resigned? It’s certainly possible, but coincidences in Washington are rare enough that they always merit a second look. Over at Redstate, Streiff points out that there’s a report coming out shortly from the Justice Department Inspector General. It allegedly deals with “abuses by the FBI during the 2016 campaign” covering their involvement with both the Clinton and Trump campaigns and it’s described as being “ugly.”
But, as Streiff goes on to say with tongue planted firmly in cheek… “I’m sure there is no relationship between the two events.”
Exit question: Is this the part in the movie where Lisa Page announces that she’s signed her own book deal and yet another tell-all is on the way? It would certainly seem to fit recent patterns at the Bureau.