The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman is demanding to know why the Justice Department made some suspicious redactions in text messages between anti-Trump FBI lovebirds Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is particularly interested in a text that suggested the Obama “White House is running this,” in reference, most likely, to the Trump-Russia investigation.
“Went well, best we could have expected. Other than [REDACTED] quote, ‘the White House is running this’,” Strzok wrote to Page on Aug. 5, 2016. “My answer, ‘well, maybe for you they are.’”
Page replied: “Yeah, whatever (re WH comment). We’ve got emails that say otherwise.”
— TheLastRefuge (@TheLastRefuge2) May 23, 2018
The Justice Department has made a habit of redacting information from documents under the pretense of protecting sources and methods, but really to spare the agency involved of embarrassment and/or complicity — and Senator Grassley has had enough.
— Byron York (@ByronYork) May 23, 2018
Grassley sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday, calling for all redactions to be removed. He cited as an example of an unnecessary redaction in a text message, “the price of Andrew McCabe’s $70,000 conference table.”
“Congress, and the public, have a right to know how the Justice Department spends taxpayer money,” Grassley wrote. “I am unaware of any legitimate basis on which the cost of a conference table should be redacted. Embarrassment is not a good enough reason. The manner in which some redactions have been used casts doubt on whether the remaining redactions are necessary and defensible,” Grassley continued.
“In another, an official’s name was redacted in reference to a text about the Obama White House ‘running’ an investigation, although it is unclear to which investigation they were referring,” Grassley wrote.
He added: “When viewing the still redacted portions in context with the unredacted material, it appeared that the redacted portions may contain relevant information relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the matter in which the Department of Justice and FBI handled the Clinton and Russia investigations.”
The letter follows two committee sessions in which staff were allowed to view less-redacted versions of the texts between Strzok and Page.
A day after the pair talked about “the White House running this,” Page sent Strzok a link to a Glamour article about then-President Barack Obama.
“Okay, so maybe not the best national security president, but a genuinely good and decent human being,” Page wrote.
Strzok replied: “Yeah, I like him. Just not a fan of the weakness globally. Was thinking about what the administration would be willing to do re Russia.”
Strzok texted Page two days later: “Hey talked to him, will let him fill you in. internal joint cyber cd intel piece for D, scenesetter for McDonough brief, Trainor [head of FBI cyber division] directed all cyber info be pulled. I’d let Bill and Jim hammer it out first, though it would be best for D to have it before the Wed WH session.”
In the texts, “D” refers to former FBI Director James Comey, and “McDonough” referred to Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, GOP investigators told Fox News. McDonough’s name, though, was redacted and only turned up when viewed by GOP investigators.
The FBI did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on whether McDonough was briefed on the Russia investigation or which investigation the White House was “running.”
Grassley asked Rosenstein to provide “unredacted copies of all text messages produced to the Committee no later than June 6,” and should they refuse, to “please provide a privilege log describing the legal basis for withholding that information from Congress.”