Over the weekend, when it was revealed that i) over 50,000 text messages had been exchanged between anti-Trump agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and ii) an unknown number of the text messages between the two agents were lost, the agency shifted blame to the largest South Korean company, when it informed the DOJ that “many FBI-provided Samsung 5 mobile devices did not capture or store text messages due to misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.”
In other words, according to the FBI, it was Samsung’s fault that thousands of text message between employees of the world’s premier law enforcement organization during an especially sensitive period, went missing. And as a reminder, during the window of missing text messages, a lot happened: Trump took the oath of office; National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whom Strzok interviewed, was fired; the controversial anti-Trump dossier was published; the president fired FBI Director James Comey; and special counsel Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election.
So far nobody has explained just what these “misconfiguration issues” were or why it took five months to notice the huge gap in message retention, but at least it wasn’t Putin’s fault this time.
The latest FBI farce prompted a bemused outburst from President Trump last night who tweeted “Where are the 50,000 important text messages between FBI lovers Lisa Page and Peter Strzok? Blaming Samsung!“
Then, in another comedic twist, when asked Monday whether the FBI “failed to preserve” text message records on similar “Samsung 5” devices belonging to any other FBI officials during that time period, the FBI told Fox News they had “no comment”.
Well, fast forward to today when the FBI did comment, but in retrospect it would have been better if they had kept their mouth shut. According to Fox News, thousands of FBI cellphones were affected by the same technical glitch that the DOJ says led to the loss of five months’ worth of text messages between Strzok and Page.
How many thousands? According to FBI officials, Fox reports that that the glitch affected the phones of “nearly” 10 percent of the FBI’s 35,000 employees.
Which means that it’s not just Strzok and Page whose text messages from the most critical period of Trump’s administration and the Russian probe were lost: the same happened to another 3,498 FBI employees. Which, in more practical terms, means that once the just announced DOJ probe into missing text message expands, miraculously some 3,500 FBI agents will be found to have had an anti-Trump bias but – thanks Samsung – none of their text messages will be accessible either, so there.
And this time the FBI won’t even have to “wipe its server with a cloth” or use a hammer to pulverize some 3,500 cell phones: it will have a perfectly handy alibi.
To which anyone who is not an idiot would retort: “hold on, doesn’t every cell phone carrier have a copy of every text message sent, not to mention the NSA.” The answer, of course, is yes, but apparently neither the FBI nor Congress has figured it out just yet.
Or maybe they have: Fox writes that “Senior Department of Justice officials told Fox News they are “taking steps” to possibly recover the texts from the appropriate cellphone carriers. The same officials told Fox News they are also making every effort to track down the physical cellphones in question so they could be subject to a forensic review.“
Although considering that even the NSA admitted last week that it had “accidentally” deleted millions of emails that it was ordered to preserve, somehow we have a feeling that the same scenario will make a miraculous repeat appearance.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to the bottom of the ongoing mystery, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz noting that the IG’s office said on December 13 that it had all the messages between Strzok and Page between Nov. 30, 2016 and July 28, 2017, something we first reported on Monday.
Only over a month later did lawmakers learn that there was actually a five-month gap, and they now want the Inspector General’s office to “reconcile” those two points.
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