By now you might have heard that the House Oversight Committee has released more documents pertaining to their investigation of the irregularities that swirled around the FBI’s obtaining of a FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page, the one-time adviser to the Trump campaign whom the Feds suspected of having illicit ties to Russia. That was the beginning of what eventually snowballed into Robert Muller being appointed as a special counsel looking into whether the president somehow colluded with the Russians to steal the 2016 election away from Hillary Clinton—although what actual crime Trump might have committed remains a mystery, as does any evidence that might warrant a special counsel.
On ther other hand, there does appear to be mounting evidence that other crimes may have been committed, and by the very people tasked with investigating Trump. The latest brouhaha has to do with the revelation of additional texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and DOJ lawyer Lisa Page, who on top of their duties were also carrying on an affair with one another at the time. It’s well known from previous texts that the two didn’t exactly like Donald Trump, which concerned Mueller enough to have them booted from his office. Now it appears as if both of them may have actually been leaking to the media in an effort to bolster the story of Russian collusion:
The review of the documents suggests that the FBI and DOJ coordinated efforts to get information to the press that would potentially be “harmful to President Trump’s administration.” Those leaks pertained to information regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant used to spy on short-term campaign volunteer Carter Page.
The letter lists several examples:
April 10, 2017: (former FBI Special Agent) Peter Strzok contacts (former FBI Attorney) Lisa Page to discuss a “media leak strategy.” Specifically, the text says: “I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about media leak strategy with DOJ before you go.”
April 12, 2017: Peter Strzok congratulates Lisa Page on a job well done while referring to two derogatory articles about Carter Page. In the text, Strzok warns Page two articles are coming out, one which is “worse” than the other about Lisa’s “namesake”.” Strzok added: “Well done, Page.”
The letter notes that the two text messages in April 2017 were during the same time frame as the FBI and DOJ officials were having conversations with reporters. During that time the Washington Post “broke a story on the Carter Page FISA application on April 11, 2017, setting off a flurry of articles suggesting connections between President Trump and Russia.”
Now to most reasonable human beings, this looks pretty simple. Strzok talks to Page about a “media leak strategy” on Monday, the Post publishes a story using said leak on Tuesday, and the two of them have a good laugh about it on Wednesday. Seems open and shut, right?
Well, not if you’re Aaron Blake, who just happens to write for...the Washington Post!
[T]here is a much less nefarious possible explanation here: That Strzok and Page were not discussing fostering leaks, but rather combating them.
It's important to note that in the first text, Strzok doesn't just talk about the “media leak strategy,” but about a strategy being coordinated with the “DOJ” — the Justice Department. That could be read to suggest this was indeed about Sessions's anti-leak effort.
To believe something egregious happened here, you'd have to grant that, even in this climate in which the president was calling leakers “criminals” and the Justice Department was ramping up its crackdown effort, Strzok and Page were conspiring to leak themselves. They would also be looping in the same Justice Department that was professing to be cracking down on leaks. That would be an extremely bold strategy.
Blake goes on to say that suggestions that Strzok and Page were the ones leaking are mere “conspiracy theories,” not once but twice, echoing the accusation made by Strzok’s attorney in defending his client from a charge, if proven to be true, could potentially land him in serious trouble. It also tends to lend credibility to the belief that there is indeed a Deep State that is out of get Trump—and has been for a very long time.
Given that his paper published the Carter Page story, and given the media’s desire to preserve the narrative of Russian collusion, Blake’s denial here comes as no surprise. To believe it, however, you would have to completely set aside Peter Strzok’s and Lisa Page‘s well-documented animus toward Donald Trump, and their desire—at any cost—to make sure that he never be elected President of the United States. You also have to forget that even Robert Mueller thought that their obvious bias was a liability to his office, and led to their dismissal as soon as it came to light. Finally, you have to believe that two people who had already engaged in exceedingly risky and unprofessional behavior—talking of their desire to help Clinton, taking out “insurance policies” against Trump, having an extramarital affair—would balk for one second at leaking to the media, especially when they knew there were a lot of people at DOJ who would cover for them.
Suddenly, the conspiracy theory doesn’t seem so farfetched, does it?