Congressman Matt Gaetz Leads 9 Lawmakers in Request for Information about FBI’s “Lost” Text Messages from Agents Strzok and Page
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01) last night sent the following letter to Christopher Wray, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), asking for details about FBI data-retention systems and procedures. Cosigners of the letter included: Congressmen Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Ron DeSantis (FL-06), Blake Farenthold (TX-27), Jim Jordan (OH-04), Raul R. Labrador (ID-01), Mark Meadows (NC-11), Mark Sanford (SC-01), and Glenn Thompson (PA-05).
This letter follows the FBI’s announcement, in a letter sent by the Justice Department to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which stated that “FBI mobile devices failed to preserve text messages for Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page” for a period of five months. Stephen Boyd, the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs at the Justice Department, attributed the failure to “misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.”
The FBI agents whose text messages were lost were Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who have recently come under scrutiny for their vehemently anti-Trump correspondence, and discussing a cryptic “insurance policy” were Trump to be elected.
During the five months of missing messages, President Trump formally took office, Michael Flynn was hired, fired, and interviewed (by Peter Strzok), Buzzfeed published the “salacious and unverified” dossier, and Robert Mueller was appointed to serve as Special Counsel. The FBI’s message-retention capabilities were suddenly restored on May 17th, the same day Mueller was appointed.
The full text of the letter can be found below.
Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
Dear Director Wray:
It has come to our attention that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has “failed to preserve” nearly five months of text messages between FBI Agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok on FBI-provided devices. Given the context surrounding these messages and the ongoing investigations being conducted by the House of Representatives, we request that your agency provide us with the following information:
1. The policies and procedures in place to collect, capture, or store electronic information, such as text messages and e-mails, on FBI-provided devices;
2. The policies and procedures in place to maintain retention and storage when devices encounter rollouts, provisioning, and/or software upgrades; and
3. The policies and procedures on retrieval of data held in both short- and long-term storage.
Additionally, we would like answers to the following questions:
1. Where are Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page’s phones currently?
2. What was the exact model of Samsung issued to Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page?
3. What wireless company provided service to Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page’s FBI-issued phones?
4. Was it changes resulting from Samsung or the FBI that led to retention failure in this instance?
5. Has the FBI attempted to manually back-up Mr. Strzok and/or Ms. Page’s FBI-issued phones?
6. Does the FBI utilize both manual- and automated-collection processes?
7. During the timeframe of the missing messages, was the FBI relying only on automatic procedures to back up devices?
8. Did automatic back-up processes work both before and after the period of missing messages?
9. Please explicitly outline the configurations for automatic backups.
10. On what date did you become aware that the text messages in this instance were missing?
This information is crucial for our ability to execute our oversight authority in an effective manner. As such, we would ask that you respond to these requests by Monday, February 5, 2018.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Member of Congress