DOJ still withholding a majority of Strzok and Page texts
The Justice Department has given Congress less than 15 percent of the texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page – and that is all Congress is likely to get, at least until department experts finish an effort to recover an unknown number of previously lost texts that were sent and received during a key five-month period during the Trump-Russia investigation.If this was a discovery proceeding I think the counsel seeking them would want a neutral party to review the withheld text messages to be sure the DOJ was not withholding something that would be relevant to the issues Congress is investigating. If most of the withheld are personal messages it is surprising they had any time to get any work done at all.
... There are a number of instances in the texts in which the two officials say that they should switch the conversation to iMessage, suggesting they continued to talk about FBI matters on personal Apple phones. For investigators, those are particularly intriguing texts – what was so sensitive that they couldn't discuss on their work phones? – but the number of those texts is unknown. And of course, they have not been turned over to Congress.
How many texts will be turned over? First, it's not possible to know how many texts from the Dec. 14, 2016 to May 17, 2017 time period will be recovered and turned over. But of the 50,000 the Justice Department already has in hand, officials say they have already turned over all they're going to give to Congress.
That means Justice has decided to allow Congress to see just 4,000 to 7,000 of a total of 50,000 Strzok-Page texts – even the larger number is slightly less than 15 percent of the total number of texts the Justice Department has now. Why is that? Justice Department officials point to a Jan. 19 letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to Capitol Hill investigators explaining which texts would and would not be turned over.
"The department is not providing text messages that were purely personal in nature," Boyd wrote. "Furthermore, the department has redacted from some work-related text messages portions that were purely personal. The department's aim in withholding purely personal text messages and redacting personal portions of work-related text messages was primarily to facilitate the committee's access to potentially relevant text messages without having to cull through large quantities of material unrelated to either the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email server or the investigation into Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election."
Finally – and this could be significant or not – Boyd said that "in a few instances," the Justice Department consulted with the office of Trump-Russia special prosecutor Robert Mueller and made some redactions "related to the structure, operation, and substance of the [Special Counsel's Office]'s investigation because it is ongoing." Hill investigators don't really know what that covers.