A new Senate Republican report on the Hillary Clinton email investigation renews questions about whether bias in the Obama administration’s handling of the case influenced the outcome, including whether President Barack Obama monitored the probe, an unverified assertion that President Donald Trump called a “bombshell.”
The report by the staff of the Homeland Security Committee includes a newly released text message from FBI lawyer Lisa Page to FBI agent Peter Strzok in September 2016 that refers to preparing talking points for then-Director James Comey for Obama. “Potus wants to know everything we’re doing,” it said without providing any evidence about the topic of the reference to the president of the United States.
President Trump said on Twitter: “NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!” Donald Trump Jr. also seized on the reference, saying in a tweet that “this is a really big deal.”
While the Senate staff report said it assumes that such a briefing might have been about the investigation into Democrat Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, that’s not clear from the text. At that point, the email investigation had been formally closed, and the FBI had separately opened a counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the presidential campaign.
The text came three days before Obama was to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China. Obama later recounted that he brought up Russia’s campaign meddling and told Putin “to cut it out, and there were going to be serious consequences if he didn’t.”
The mention that “Obama wants to know everything” is “concerning,” but its actual meaning is “something we’ve got to figure out,” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a senior Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee. He said the timing of the message indicates it may have been about the Clinton emails or the Russia inquiry and would be “pretty darned significant” in either case.
The messages include an agent expressing frustration with Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s remark that she would follow the FBI’s recommendation in the Clinton case, saying that she made that statement because “she knows” already that Clinton wouldn’t face charges, the report said.
Other text messages in the Senate report, some of which have been previously released, show Strzok and Page expressing strongly negative opinions about Donald Trump and the prospect he’d become president.
“The information available to the committee at this time raises serious questions about how the FBI applied the rule of law in its investigation of classified information on Secretary Clinton’s private email server,” said the report, which was issued by Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson without the participation of Senate Democrats.
The report doesn’t make final conclusions on whether bias or political interference influenced the outcome of the case, but says its findings show the need for further investigation.
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