About Those FBI Text Messages
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
And the memo isn't the only thing Republicans are using to try and prove bias against the president. They also point to text messages between two FBI employees having an affair. The texts describe the possibility of Trump becoming president as, quote, "terrifying." One of those FBI workers later joined Mueller's investigation team. Late last month, the texts - some texts were recovered. And Del Quentin Wilber of the Wall Street Journal read through them. A warning to listeners - there's some coarse language ahead. Mr. Wilber, welcome to the program.
DEL QUENTIN WILBER: Hey. Thanks for having me.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Set this up for us. There were text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer. There's been various batches of these text messages. Talk us through what we know about this.
WILBER: Well, it's really interesting. So Peter Strzok was the top agent on Hillary Clinton's investigation of her email server. He was also probably one of the best counterintelligence agents, according to people who know him, in the FBI. And he had been promoted to be, like, a deputy assistant director. And that way, after the Clinton investigation's done - remember, it ended in July of 2016. And then it...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And this was an investigation into her email - her private email...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Server, et cetera.
WILBER: Yes. Then he starts the Russia probe. He's a top counterintelligence guy. He's helping - he helps supervise that investigation of whether there are links between Trump associates and Moscow to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So he's a central guy in some of these very, very important investigations...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...That were taking place.
WILBER: Yes. Meanwhile, he's having an affair with a FBI - a lawyer named Lisa Page who is an aide - like, the top lawyer counsel to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. And so a lot of their - and she works some on the Clinton probe. And she's well aware of the Russian investigation. And their texts - they've released various batches of their text messages on their work phones. There was a first batch in December - if you remember, that's where all the political ones come out where they all call Trump a douche. And they call Bernie Sanders a douche. They did not like a lot of politicians. They trashed them...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So it was sort of an equal opportunity disdain, if you will.
WILBER: Yeah. But they disdained Trump more. Then - now they released to Congress a couple of weeks ago 384 pages, 7,000 text messages. They released that bunch. It was really interesting. And it was, like, insight into two people who were in the crucible of, like, these two high-profile cases. And, like, they - he's, like, talking about, like, I'm about to go interview Clinton. And I'm at Starbucks now.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: The Republicans have been using this to suggest that there was some sort of conspiracy against the president. Do the text messages that you saw reveal that?
WILBER: No. There are a couple ones where, like, he talked about an insurance policy. And there's another one where she talks about a secret society. And Republicans have jumped on those.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Peter Strzok wrote about the president getting elected, I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40.
WILBER: Yeah. It's just...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's what you were referencing.
WILBER: Let's remember what happened in the weeks before the election - you know, Comey released a memo - the FBI director released a memo about reopening the Clinton investigation. And then Pete Strzok - the insurance policy was his way of saying, listen. We - I know that you think that Clinton is going to win. Everyone thinks Clinton is going to win. We can't work this case for three years, assuming that she's going to be president. We need to do it now in the off chance that Trump wins.
And that's what associates said he meant by that. And so when you read all the texts in their totality, there is no evidence in the texts that I saw that they were hatching a plot to, A, derail Trump's campaign - and if they did, it never happened - and, B, derail his presidency.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what happened to Mr. Strzok and Miss Page? Just remind us.
WILBER: Well, Mr. Strzok went to work for Mr. Mueller. And then he was the lead agent. And then he got taken off the investigation after the first batch of texts were found. He's now reassigned to human resources. And in the batch of texts to Congress, there's one last text. And it's from her. And she tells him, don't text me anymore. And it's a real coda for everything that I read in these text messages.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Del Quentin Wilber covers the Justice Department and the FBI for The Wall Street Journal. Thank you so much.
WILBER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.