The Hill’s John Solomon reports that text messages sent between FBI agent Peter Strzok and his girlfriend Lisa Page suggest the two may have been involved in leaking information to the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. Last October, the two seemed to be discussing ways to make it appear they had randomly come across a story in the Wall Street Journal, one they seem to know about in advance, so they could distribute it to colleagues.
“Article is out, but hidden behind paywall so can’t read it,” Page texted Strzok on Oct. 24, 2016.
“Wsj? Boy that was fast,” Strzok texted back, using the initials of the famed financial newspaper. “Should I ‘find’ it and tell the team?”…
“I can get it like I do every other article that hits any Google News alerts, seriously,” Strzok wrote, adding he didn’t want his team hearing about the article “from someone else.”
The Hill doesn’t say which story was being discussed. One possibility is this one published on Oct. 23, 2016 (and still behind a paywall): Clinton Ally Aided Campaign of FBI Official’s Wife. That article opens:
The political organization of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, an influential Democrat with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, gave nearly $500,000 to the election campaign of the wife of an official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use.
Campaign finance records show Mr. McAuliffe’s political-action committee donated $467,500 to the 2015 state Senate campaign of Dr. Jill McCabe, who is married to Andrew McCabe, now the deputy director of the FBI.
Again, I’m not sure that’s the article Strzok was referring to but you can imagine how that piece would be seen as significant within the FBI. What’s not clear is why Strzok and Page would know about it in advance. In another exchange shortly before the election, Page and Strzok discussed throwing someone under the bus in a forthcoming article:
Strzok texted Page about another new article, suggesting it was anti-FBI. “Yep, the whole tone is anti-Bu. Just a tiny bit from us,” he wrote.
Page texted she had seen the article. “Makes me feel WAY less bad about throwing him under the bus to the forthcoming CF article,” she texted. Congressional investigators are still trying to determine what the “CF article” reference means and who the agents thought they were trying to throw “under the bus.”
Finally, there are other text messages in which the duo are looking for contact information for NY Times reporter Matt Apuzzo:
Strzok cautions Page against using the work phone to track down information on the reporter. “I wouldn’t search on your work phone, ,,, no idea what that might trigger,” he texted.
“Oops. Too late,” she responded back.
It’s not clear why they wanted to talk to Apuzzo but clearly, Strzok was concerned that it wasn’t official business and therefore shouldn’t be conducted on a government phone. In the fall of 2016, Apuzzo was the lead writer on a number of stories about the Clinton email case which relied on anonymous DOJ and FBI sources. Here’s a sample from one Matt Apuzzo story published Nov. 1:
The mood at the F.B.I. is dark, and nobody is willing to predict what the coming days will bring, particularly if agents and analysts do not complete their review of Ms. Abedin’s emails by Election Day. Officials said it would take something extraordinary to change the conclusion that nobody should be charged. But the absence of information has allowed festering speculation that the emails must be significant.
The Hill article says contacts between the FBI and the media aren’t necessarily problematic but given Strzok’s involvement in two major cases (Hillary emails and Russian collusion) and his previously uncovered bias for Hillary and against Trump, what he said to reporters prior to the election seems worth investigating.