Texts found (& lost) in a bottle

The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General conducted an investigation of the gap in text messages during the period December 15, 2016, through May 17, 2017, from the cell phones assigned to famous FBI lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The Office of Inspector General Cyber Investigations Office was asked to attempt recovery of these missing text messages for the period in issue. The Inspector General has just issued a report summarizing his investigation and stating his conclusion.

Even though it is short, the report is so dry as to be sleep inducing. I take it that the OIG finds no wrongdoing. To adapt a formulation from Cool Hand Luke, what we have here is failure to preserve communication. Perhaps relevant policies need to be adjusted. Nearly 20,000 text messages have been recovered, but none from the tenure of Strzok and Page with the Special Counsel.

Reading the report, I felt that translation was required. I have no confidence that I understand what is being said in the dry bureaucratic prose or what is said between the lines. Don’t the circumstances rate at least an arched eyebrow or other expression of incredulity? My reaction is you’ve got to be kidding me. As Ace of Spades aptly puts it, “Nothing to see here.”

Gregg Re’s FOX News report “Justice Dept IG blames FBI-wide software failure for missing Strzok-Page messages” offers this:

In a comprehensive report issued Thursday, the Department of Justice’s internal watchdog blamed a technical glitch for a swath of missing text messages between anti-Trump ex-FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — and revealed that government phones issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office to Strzok and Page had been wiped completely clean after Strzok was fired from the Russia probe.

The DOJ’s Inspector General (IG) said that, with help from the Department of Defense, it was able to uncover thousands of missing text messages written by Strzok and Page and sent using their FBI-issued Samsung phones from December 15, 2016 through May 17, 2017, “as well as hundreds of other text messages outside the gap time period that had not been produced by the FBI due to technical problems with its text message collection tool.”

But when the IG went looking for the iPhones separately issued to Strzok and Page by the Mueller team, investigators were told that “[Strzok’s] iPhone had been reset to factory settings and was reconfigured for the new user to whom the device was issued.”

The records officer at the special counsel told the IG that “as part of the office’s records retention procedure, the officer reviewed Strzok’s DOJ issued iPhone after he returned it to the [special counsel’s office] and determined it contained no substantive text messages” on September 6, 2017 — weeks after he was fired from Mueller’s team for anti-Trump bias and sending anti-Trump text messages.

The officer wrote a note in an official log after reviewing Strzok’s phone: “No substantive texts, notes or reminders.” But the officer told the IG that she did “not recall whether there were any text messages on Strzok’s phone,” although “she made an identical log entry for an iPhone she reviewed from another employee on the same day that she specifically recalled having no text messages.”

Re has more, but you get the gist. See also Chuck Ross’s Daily Caller article, “DOJ WATCHDOG WAS UNABLE TO RECOVER PETER STRZOK’S TEXT MESSAGES DURING MUELLER TENURE” and Jordan Schactel’s Conservative Review article “Obstruction? Mueller probe wiped Strzok phone before giving it to investigators.” I have embedded the text of the report below via Scribd.

OIGFBIReport by Scott Johnson on Scribd

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