Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Chairmen Johnson, Grassley Seek Answers Regarding FBI’s Apparent Awareness of Leaks to Media

May 06, 2019
WASHINGTON – In a letter sent to Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Michael K. Atkinson today, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are spotlighting specific concerning messages regarding the FBI’s apparent awareness of leaks by other agencies or entities to the media about ongoing investigations. Late last month, 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.
 
“On April 25, 2019 we sent a letter to Attorney General Barr highlighting a November 2017 text message exchange between Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page in which they discussed sending a “CI guy” to a briefing for the Trump presidential transition team to “assess” the attendees and possibly “develop [] potential relationships.” In addition to questions about the meaning of these text messages, we also highlighted our continued concerns about leaks to the media about ongoing investigations,” the senators wrote.
 
“We write today to highlight other information regarding the FBI’s apparent awareness of leaks by other agencies or entities to the media.”
 
“We are looking forward to the Justice Department Inspector General’s forthcoming reports reviewing potential FISA abuses and leaks from FBI personnel in order to gain a better understanding of what happened during the Russia investigation. However, these texts and emails demonstrate the need to investigate leaks from agencies or entities other than FBI.”
 
Chairmen Johnson and Grassley’s letter to Inspector General Atkinson can be found here and below:
 
May 6, 2019
 
The Honorable Michael K. Atkinson
Inspector General of the Intelligence Community
1500 Tysons McLean Drive
McLean, VA 22102
 
Dear Inspector General Atkinson:
 
On April 25, 2019, we sent a letter to Attorney General Barr highlighting a November 2017 text message exchange between Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page in which they discussed sending a “CI guy” to a briefing for the Trump presidential transition team to “assess” the attendees and possibly “develop [] potential relationships.”[1]  In addition to questions about the meaning of these text messages, we also highlighted our continued concerns about leaks to the media about ongoing investigations. 
 
We write today to highlight other information regarding the FBI’s apparent awareness of leaks by other agencies or entities to the media.  Specifically, in a December 2016 text message between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page, Strzok told Page:
           
Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried and political, they’re kicking in to overdrive.[2]
 
Later, 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.[3]
 
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”? 
 
We are looking forward to the Justice Department Inspector General’s forthcoming reports reviewing potential FISA abuses and leaks from FBI personnel in order to gain a better understanding of what happened during the Russia investigation.  However, these texts and emails demonstrate the need to investigate leaks from agencies or entities other than FBI.  Accordingly, has the Intelligence Community Office of the Inspector General initiated an investigation into these apparent leaks?  If 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
 

cc:         The Honorable William P. Barr
              Attorney General
 
             The Honorable Christopher A. Wray
             Director
 

[1] Letter from Ron Johnson, S. Comm. on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, & Charles E. Grassley, S. Comm. on Finance, to William Barr, Dep’t of Justice (Apr. 25, 2019).
[2] Text message from Peter Strzok to Lisa Page (Dec. 15, 2016).
[3] FBI_HJC_03_22_18_Req7_000376, 377, Email from Peter Strzok (Apr. 13, 2017).
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