Monday, July 15, 2024

Strzok Used Unsecured Devices for Classified FBI Material

‘The level of hypocrisy seen in your conduct is staggering and further calls into question your judgment…’

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Peter Strzok/IMAGE: YouTube

(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) As the result of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by disgraced former FBI agent Peter Strzok, the Justice Department released a new document detailing the misconduct and bias that Strzok exhibited while leading investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Russia collusion hoax.

A 27-page letter addressed to Strzok from the Office of Professional Responsibility highlights some of the 40,000 text messages Strzok exchanged with his mistress, FBI attorney Lisa Page, on bureau-issued phones that they either thought were untraceable or simply didn’t care.

“You were aware that your communications with [Page] on your FBI-issued phone were monitored and logged and admitted you could ‘envision a number of scenarios’  in which the disclosure of those messages would hurt the integrity of the FBI and the Clinton Email and Russia investigations,” said the letter from OPR Assistant Director Candice Will, citing an investigation by FBI Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Technical Difficulties?

Although many of the damaging texts between the two FBI lovebirds have long been in the public record, the new document reveals more about the carelessness with which Strzok handled both his personal indiscretions and the sensitive FBI material that he was charged with safeguarding.

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Peter Strzok & Lisa Page/PHOTOS: Justice Dept. & Ohio State U.

At the same time as he was using his FBI phone for embarrassing personal matters, Strzok also frequently used his unsecured email and devices to handle classified FBI material.

When investigators asked why Strzok failed to use secured machinery that he had been issued, he pleaded incompetence.

“You acknowledged you had been issued an FBI laptop to work from home but claimed you did not know how to properly log on to use the machine,” said the OPR letter.

As the Russia probe was intensifying, a month before Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey helped trigger the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to independently investigate it, the love affair between Strzok and Page was beginning to unravel.

In April 2017, the two exchanged messages on their FBI-secured phones to discuss the fact that Strzok’s wife, suspecting infidelity, had gained access to his personal accounts and devices.

    Strzok: [My wife] has my phone [] . Read an angry note I wrote but didn’t send you. That is her calling from my phone. She says she wants to talk to [you]. Said we were close friends nothing more.
    Page: Your wife left me a [voicemail]. Am I supposed to respond. She thinks we’re having an affair. Should I call and correct her understanding? Leave this to you to address?
    Strzok: I don’t know. I said we were [] close friends and nothing more. She knows I sent you flowers, I said you were having a tough week.

Strzok claimed to the inspector general that his wife’s access to the accounts was “unusual” and “limited,” also saying there were no classified work materials because he had “double deleted” them.

However, he evidently was much more careless with his own private secrets, failing even to take the security precautions that a typical teenager might take.

In a footnote referencing another text exchange between Strzok and Page, the OPR elaborated on exactly what Mrs. Strzok uncovered while perusing her then-husband’s devices:

    [Y]our wife had access to your devices and had located [Page]’s husband’s full name, found a hotel reservation ostensibly used by you and [Page] during a romantic encounter, had access to photographs from your phone, threatened to send all the information to [Page]’s husband, and also, threatened to hire a private investigator. [Page] told you to determine whether your wife might use recovery software to locate other evidence of your affair on your devices.

A Parallel Investigation

As the clumsiness of the love affair played out in comical fashion, the seriousness of the classified-information breach seemed to be an afterthought for the two top-level investigative officials.

Anthony Weiner
Anthony Weiner/IMAGE: Movieclips Indie via Youtube

Strzok’s own security foibles contrasted with the backdrop of classified material discovered on the laptop of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, who was married to Hillary Clinton‘s personal assistant.

Strzok expressed to Page his disinterest in the new break in the Clinton case and appeared to slow-walk the investigation into it, both due to his political biases and a personal reluctance to travel to New York.

Rather than coordinate the investigation from the field, Strzok instead took a conference call and downplayed the importance of the discovery.

However, Strzok’s inaction led an agitated New York case agent to take his worries outside the FBI chain to a Justice Department U.S. attorney’s office.

After news of the Weiner emails broke, with only weeks to go before the 2016 election, Comey announced the reopening of the Clinton case, seeing no other option. Clinton supporters later scapegoated Comey and the FBI for her election loss due to the negative headlines.

Despite Strzok’s litany of excuses, the inspector general determined “there is no reasonable excuse for the FBI’s delay in following up on this matter.”

‘Immeasurable Harm’

The OPR letter to Strzok cites unprofessional conduct, security violations and dereliction of supervisory duty as the reasons for his termination.

“Your misconduct has cast a pall over the FBI’s Clinton Email and Russia investigations and the work of the Special Counsel [Mueller],” it said. “The immeasurable harm done to the reputation of the FBI will not be easily overcome.”

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William Barr / IMAGE: Senate Judiciary Committee

The letter also points out the irony in Strzok’s own lack of judgment and the parallels with the Clinton case, where he was investigating and criticizing others for similar circumstances.

“The level of hypocrisy seen in your conduct is staggering and further calls into question your judgment,” it said.

“Your impermissible use of your private email to conduct official FBI business in a matter that involved a possible misuse of a private server and email accounts to conduct government business created a strong likelihood that the public image of the FBI would be significantly tarnished, and the investigative conclusions of one of the FBI’s largest cases would be called into question,” it continued.

Attorney General William Barr, who is named in Strzok’s suit, released the document in the hopes of a dismissal of the case.

“It is because of those text messages, and the paramount importance of preserving the FBI’s ability to function as a trusted, nonpartisan institution, that Plaintiff was removed from his position, and not because of any alleged disagreement with Plaintiff’s viewpoints on political issues or Tweets from the President,” Barr’s motion said.

Strzok—along with Comey and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe—are believed to figure prominently into a sweeping criminal investigation being led by special prosecutor John Durham that is expected soon to conclude.

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