IG Report: Strzok, Page iPhones Wiped Clean, Thousands of Texts Destroyed Before IG Could Review Them
An FBI officer on Mueller’s team had reviewed Strzok’s iPhone and reported “No substantive texts, notes or reminders”
On Thursday the IG published a bombshell report regarding the now-infamous anti-Trump sentiment shared between two key members of the FBI and of the Mueller investigation team, Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page.
The IG report reveals not only that both Strzok’s and Page’s iPhones were wiped clean and restored to factory settings by a member of Mueller’s team but that Strzok’s iPhone was then reissued to another agent for use.
The Department of Justice wiped text messages between former FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strozk [sic] from their cell phones before the Office of the Inspector General could review them, a new report from the DOJ watchdog reveals.
Page and Strozk’s [sic] involvement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has been heavily scrutinized after it was revealed they had sent numerous anti-Trump text messages back and forth to one another. Mueller has been tasked with looking into whether or not Donald Trump and his campaign associates coordinated with Russian officials to steal the 2016 election away from Hillary Clinton.
The 11-page report reveals that almost a month after Strzok was removed from Mueller’s team, his government-issued iPhone was wiped clean and restored to factory settings by another individual working in Mueller’s office. The special counsel’s Record’s Officer told investigators that “she determined it did not contain records that needed to be retained.”
“She noted in her records log about Strzok’s phone: ‘No substantive texts, notes or reminders,’” the report states.
When the OIG obtained his old cell phone in January, it had been issued to another individual within the agency and investigators were unable to recover any text messages sent or received by Strozk [sic] on that device.
Two weeks after Page departed Mueller’s team on July 15, 2017, her government-issued iPhone was also wiped and restored to factory settings and had not been reissued to another person within the agency. No one within the special counsel’s office or the Justice Management Divisions of the agency had any records as to who cleared all the data from the iPhone.
The officer who reviewed Strzok’s iPhone and declared it contained “No substantive texts, notes or reminders” admits that she did not conduct a similar review of Page’s iPhone prior to it being wiped clean and restored to factory settings.
Unlike with Strzok’s phone, the records officer on Mueller’s team stated that “she did not receive the phone following Page’s departure from the [special counsel’s office] and therefore she did not review Page’s iPhone for records that would possibly need to be retained prior to the phone having been reset.”
President Trump is incensed.
Additionally, the report reveals that thousands of text messages were ultimately recovered from both Strzok’s and Page’s Samsung Galaxy phones, messages that had previously been reported as “lost.” The content of the recovered messages has not yet been made public.
The OIG did not produce the content of the text messages in its report.
“The OIG forensically recovered thousands of text messages from FBI mobile devices issued to Strzok and Page through its multiple extraction efforts. Approximately 9,311 text messages were recovered from Strzok’s S5 [Samsung],” the report states. “Approximately 10,760 text messages were recovered from Page’s S5.”
The IG reports that these text messages had previously been “lost” from the Samsung phones due to an FBI ” collection tool failure.”
While the FBI maintains a system to wirelessly collect text messages sent to, or received by, FBI-issued mobile devices, the IG found that the system had failed systemically while Strzok and Page were texting.
“Approximately 9,311 text messages were recovered from Strzok’s [phone] during the collection tool failure period,” the IG wrote. “Approximately 10,760 text messages were recovered from Page’s [phone] during the collection tool failure period.”
The FBI reportedly switched to iPhones in response to this failure, so it’s not yet clear whether or not the FBI system of wirelessly collecting text messages sent to and from FBI-issued mobile devices contains the text messages deleted from the wiped Strzok and Page iPhones.
The IG report itself indicates that there is no means of recording such messages by the FBI.
During calendar year 2017, the FBI phased out use of the Samsung Gala.xy S5 devices by its employees and replaced them with Samsung Oala’Cy S7 devices because of software and other issues that prevented the data collection tool from reliably capturing text messages sent and received via FBI issued Samsung Galaxy SS mobile devices. According to FBl’s Information and Technology Branch, as of November 15, 2018, the data collection tool utilized by FBI was still not reliably collecting text messages from approximately IO percent of FBI issued mobile devices, which included Samsung S7s and subsequently issued S9s. By comparison, the estimated failure rate of the collection tool was 20 percent for the Samsung S5s.
The 010 reviewed DOJ memoranda and FBI policy relating to retention of substantive electronic communications. These policies require individual employees to take steps to ensure preservation of such electronic communications relating to a criminal or civil investigation. The FBI policy informs its employees to contact the FBl’s Enterprise Security Operations Center (ESOC) if they need to access electronic communications that the individual has not preserved, such as text messages and email messages.
According to FBI’s Office of General Counsel, ESOC has in place a process for the collection of text messages. However, the OIG determined that the FBI does not currently have a specific policy directive mandating that FBI, through ESOC or otherwise, collect text messages sent and received by FBI employees using their FBI issued mobile devices.
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.