Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

Instagram

Flickr

Twitter

Facebook

Chairmen Johnson, Grassley Continue Push for Answers from the Intelligence Community on FBI’s Apparent Awareness of Leaks to Media

Jul 23, 2019
WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the inspectors general of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) today to continue their push for answers regarding messages that illustrate the FBI’s apparent awareness of leaks to the media about ongoing investigations. This follows a letter the chairmen sent to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IC IG) Michael K. Atkinson in May 2019 regarding whether the IC IG conducted a review of alleged leaks from the intelligence community. The IC IG’s June 2019 response refused to confirm whether it conducted an investigation into leaks or whether it has made a referral to another agency.
 
In this latest letter, the chairmen request whether the principal oversight bodies of the NSA and CIA are reviewing alleged leaks from the IC.
 
“On May 6, 2019, we wrote to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IC IG) about potential leaks of sensitive information by other agencies or entities to the media during the course of the FBI’s Russia investigation. The IC IG refused to confirm the existence of any investigation or referral to another entity, even though it has done so in the past, most notably when it informed Congress and the public of an 811(c) referral that started the Clinton investigation. Due to the IC IG’s lack of transparency about this recent matter, we write to you about our concerns about alleged leaks within the IC,” the senators wrote.
 
“These texts and emails raise a number of serious questions and concerns.  For example, who are the ‘sisters’ and what does it mean to say that the ‘sisters have [been] leaking like mad?’  What are they worried about, and what are they kicking into ‘overdrive?’  Which ‘agency’ is he referring to, and why does Strzok believe the referenced news article highlights that ‘agency as [a] source of some of the leaks?’”
 
“Accordingly, has your office initiated an investigation into these apparent leaks?  Further, has your office coordinated with the IC IG about these issues? It not, please explain why not.”
 
Earlier this year, the chairmen requested a briefing from the Justice Department on its review of spying on the Trump presidential campaign and raised questions about potential efforts by senior FBI officials to use briefings with the Trump transition team as intelligence gathering operations.
 
Chairmen Johnson and Grassley’s letter to the inspectors general can be found here and below:
 
The Honorable Robert P. Storch
Inspector General
National Security Agency
 
Ms. Christine Ruppert
Acting Deputy Inspector General and Counsel
Office of the Inspector General
Central Intelligence Agency
 
Dear Inspector General Storch and Ms. Ruppert:
 
On May 6, 2019, we wrote to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IC IG) about potential leaks of sensitive information by other agencies or entities to the media during the course of the FBI’s Russia investigation.[1]  The IC IG refused to confirm the existence of any investigation or referral to another entity, even though it has done so in the past, most notably when it informed Congress and the public of an 811(c) referral that started the Clinton investigation.[2]  Due to the IC IG’s lack of transparency about this recent matter, we write to you about our concerns about alleged leaks within the IC. 
 
In our letter to the IC IG, we highlighted text messages between Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page discussing the FBI’s apparent awareness of leaks.  In a December 2016 text message, Mr. Strzok told Ms. Page:
 
Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried and political, they’re kicking in to overdrive.[3]
 
Then in April 2017, Strzok e-mailed FBI colleagues and once again discussed leaks by others to the press.  Specifically, with regard to the publication of an article in The Guardian titled “British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia,” Strzok said:
 
I’m beginning to think the agency got info a lot earlier than we thought and hasn’t shared it completely with us. Might explain all these weird/seemingly incorrect leads all these media folks have. Would also highlight agency as source of some of the leaks.[4]
 
These texts and emails raise a number of serious questions and concerns.  For example, who are the “sisters” and what does it mean to say that the “sisters have [been] leaking like mad”?  What are they worried about, and what are they kicking into “overdrive”?  Which “agency” is he referring to, and why does Strzok believe the referenced news article highlights that “agency as [a] source of some of the leaks”? 
 
Accordingly, has your office initiated an investigation into these apparent leaks?  Further, has your office coordinated with the IC IG about these issues?  It not, please explain why not.
 
Should you have any questions, please contact Brian Downey of Chairman Johnson’s staff at (202) 224-4751, or Joshua Flynn-Brown of Chairman Grassley’s staff at (202) 224-4515.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ron Johnson 
Chairman
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Charles E. Grassley
Chairman
Committee on Finance
 
-30-
 
 
 

[1] Letter from Ron Johnson, S. Comm. on Homeland Security & Gov. Affairs, & Charles E. Grassley, S. Comm. on Finance, to Michael K. Atkinson, Inspector Gen. of the Intelligence Cmty. (May 6, 2019).
[2] Letter from Michael K. Atkinson, Inspector Gen. of the Intelligence Cmty., to Ron Johnson, S. Comm. on Homeland Security & Gov. Affairs, & Charles E. Grassley, S. Comm. on Finance (Jun. 4, 2019); Statement, Inspectors Gen. of the Intelligence Cmty. and the Dept. of State, Regarding the Review of Former Secretaty Clinton’s Emails (July 24, 2015) available at https://www.stateoig.gov/system/files/statement_of_the_icig_and_oig_regarding_review_of_clintons_emails_july_24_2015_0.pdf.
[3] Text message from Peter Strzok, Fed. Bureau of Investigation, to Lisa Page, Fed. Bureau of Investigation (Dec. 15, 2016). Zeke J. Miller, “Officials: Classified Emails ‘Should Never’ Have Been on Hillary Clinton Server,” TIME (July 24, 2015);  see also, Statement from the Inspectors General of the Intelligence Community and the Department of State Regarding the Review of Former Secretary Clinton’s Emails, I. Charles McCullough, III, Inspector Gen. of the Intelligence Cmty. and Steve Linick, Inspector Gen. of the Dep. of State, (July 24, 2015), available at https://www.stateoig.gov/system/files/statement_of_the_icig_and_oig_regarding_review_of_clintons_emails_july_24_2015_0.pdf;  see also Letter from I. Charles McCullough, III, Inspector Gen. of the Intelligence Cmty., to Randall Coleman, Assistant Director, Counterintelligence Div., Fed. Bureau of Investigation (July 6, 2015).   
[4] E-mail from Peter Strzok, Fed. Bureau of Investigation, FBI_HJC_03_22_18_Req7_000376, 377 (Apr. 13, 2017).