President Donald Trump is joining the chorus of Republicans outraged by news that the FBI is missing five months worth of text messages between two FBI staffers whom GOP lawmakers have accused of having an anti-Trump bias.
In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Trump called the news “one of the biggest stories in a long time” and suggested there could be as many as 50,000 texts that haven’t been reviewed by authorities.
“Wow!” he said.
In one of the biggest stories in a long time, the FBI now says it is missing five months worth of lovers Strzok-Page texts, perhaps 50,000, and all in prime time. Wow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2018
Over the weekend, the FBI was expected to release a new round of text messages between former agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, but announced that due to “misconfiguration issues” the texts had been lost, according to Politico and multiple other news outlets. The announcement sparked outrage among Republican lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee, who released a statement calling the loss of the messages “concerning” and said it caused them to “further question the credibility and objectivity of certain officials at the FBI,” Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said in a joint statement shared with Politico.
The three are also at the forefront of the debate over whether a classified memo they compiled about the conduct of Department of Justice and FBI officials should be made public.
The President’s tweets follow news from the DOJ Monday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to examine the records to see if any of the texts can be recovered.
The text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page during the 2016 presidential election refer to President Trump as an “idiot” and indicate the two supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her presidential bid. The department’s Inspector General is currently probing the two officials’ potential bias and the work they did for the Russia investigation. That investigation isn’t expected to wrap up until April.
Trump and other Republicans are using the texts to hold a candle to their accusations of bias within the FBI, a phenomenon the President has been fueling since he fired former FBI Director James Comey last spring.