President Donald Trump on Saturday angrily cited a story by a right-wing outlet claiming that some 20,000 texts by a former FBI agent and bureau lawyer were intentionally erased by an official of the Justice Department before its inspector general could examine them. But that account has been contradicted by his own administration— the Office of the Inspector General.
The OIG determined that the texts were initially missing due to faulty technology, not malicious intent. More than 20,000 texts have been recovered, according to an OIG report issued this month.
The conservative Federalist wrote Saturday that a DOJ official “wiped clean” and “destroyed” the texts between Strzok and Page, who had shared their dislike of Trump in messages while investigating Hillary Clinton’s missing emails — and Russian interference in the presidential election. Strzok was fired this year because of the messages. Page left on her own.
Trump angrily tweeted Saturday about the findings of the Federalist story, ironically complaining that the “fake news” mainstream media would fail to report the inaccurate information. He said the texts were “wiped clean and gone.”
A five-month gap in texts eventually recovered from Strzok and Page’s phones was not due to deliberate erasure. Rather, the gap coincided with a technical failure by an automated collection application, according to the OIG report. By the time the investigators examined the phones, they had been restored to their initial factory settings for use by other agents.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, a Trump appointee, said at the time that the missing texts were due to “misconfiguration issues related to rollouts … and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBl’s collection capabilities,” Politico reported. The OIG has made recommendations to improve the bureau’s data collection and recovery system.
Twitter critics were amused that Trump somehow missed pertinent facts in the OIG report — or perhaps missed the report entirely.